THEY Want her out! Names Mentioned!
Exec accused of ‘oppressive behavior’
By Veronica Uy
Last updated 08:58pm (Mla time) 07/30/2007
MANILA, Philippines -- At least 13 Filipino staffers of the United Nations office here, including two who have already left the office, are seeking the ouster of the office’s chief, Nileema Noble, for her allegedly “autocratic and oppressive behavior.”
In a letter to Kemal Dervis, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in New York, staffers Mary Gemme Montebon, Jennifer Navarro, Amelia D. Supetran, Emmanuel E. Buendia, Morito G. Francisco, Imee F. Manal, Clarissa Arida, Roberto V. Carandang, Anna L. Senga, Jay-Ann Arandia, and Elcid C. Pangilinan, and former staff workers Frances M. Solinap and Francis Gertrud R. Mercado, also asked that Nileema be punished for “verbal and physical harassment,” “abuse of authority,” and “violation of the rights” of the staffers, particularly to effective remedy and due process.
A copy of the 11-page letter dated July 23 this year was obtained by INQUIRER.net.
Sought for comment, Noble’s office said she has been instructed by UNDP headquarters in New York to refrain from talking about the case because an investigating mission will be coming to the country to conduct a two-day probe on the matter.
The 13 said they tried to give Noble the benefit of the doubt, “but the longer we worked with her, the faster we came to the conclusion that her autocratic and oppressive behavior will not change.” They said Noble’s continued stay at the UN’s Manila office will erode the UNDP and UN’s credibility in the country.
Citing the Charter of the United Nations, the Staff Rules, and the Standards of Conduct for the International Civil Service, the complainants said “abusive behavior” is not tolerated by the organization.
“As you know, Staff Rule 101.2 (d) indicates that ‘any form of discrimination or harassment, as well as physical or verbal abuse at the workplace or in connection with work, is prohibited. Harassment in any shape or form is an affront to human dignity and international civil servants must avoid it,’” they said.
They enumerated 22 different forms of alleged abuse. Among these, quoted verbatim from the letter, are:
-- Most recently, she insulted and embarrassed staff in front of high ranking government officials, publicly berating them with rude language for supposedly not undertaking a task which she committed to the government without even consulting and formally informing the staff concerned.
-- Poked a staff member’s chest and forcefully slapped another’s back to emphasize a point because she is angry or frustrated.
-- Rebuffed a staff who was so happy because Mrs. Noble already signed a contract (after several weeks of the document being with the latter). When the said staff slightly touched Mrs. Noble on the shoulder and quipped that it was finally over, Mrs. Noble physically shoved her hand away and responded in a loud voice, “What are you suggesting -- that
I’m pending documents in this office…”
-- Meetings where she often raises her voice and nit-picks on managers and staff members, embarrassing and denigrating them unnecessarily. Several incidents of one-on-one meetings with staff where she raised her voice caused further intimidation and fear among them.
-- High-handed behavior with staff members, treating them with not a bit of respect. In one incident, a staff witnessed Mrs. Noble’s ordering another staff to fetch a pen under her table, which she can very well do on her own.
-- Several incidents with staff where she would nakedly point out their supposed rudeness in front of colleagues for not immediately greeting her good morning or good afternoon while she does not even observe it herself. In fact, she would rudely interrupt meetings of staff with the Deputy Resident Representative and not even apologize for the rude intrusion. There was one incident where she was not satisfied with the workshop flow and accused the UN staff in-charge of the activity of sabotaging the Office, in front of everyone.
-- Several incidents where staff were too afraid to speak or question her decisions even if such will clearly compromise the organization for fear of retaliation. Whenever staff muster enough courage to speak their minds on certain issues which clearly contravene her own, she would intimidate these staff until they give up. By her actuations, Mrs. Noble always presumes herself to be correct and no one should, therefore, question her actions. In one of the staff meeting, Mrs. Noble announced staff movements and claimed that she has informed the particular staff of his re-assignment to another unit, where he allegedly agreed on. The concerned staff responded that it was the first time that he has heard of the re-assignment.
-- Often exhibiting unnecessary frustration, rage, and intimidation if an outcome is not to her liking, accusing staff of perceived hidden motivation, imaginary errors, and incomplete staff work. She often accuses staff of hiding things from her and not providing her enough information, no matter how many briefings, briefing papers and other information materials are provided her. She does not listen to staff explanation and makes oft-repeated accusations which are baseless and untrue.
-- One incident where she almost tore a letter apart when she erased her signature in front of a staff, implying that the staff was trying to trick her into signing that document.
-- She also has the habit of throwing papers back to the persons submitting them, if she is not satisfied with such papers.
-- Recent arbitrary (and forcible) termination of two staff without due process. Further, the manner in which she handed out the decision and her ensuing instructions for its implementation, such as the terminated staff’s leaving the UN premises immediately, packing their belongings and turn-over of keys and IDs within the hour, showed how little her respect is for common decency and dignity of a human person, treating them like common criminals. Staff members who witnessed these incidents were left in shock and fear. If these could happen to high-ranking national staff in the UNDP/UN, then it can very well happen to them, or even much worse. These incidents of arbitrary termination happened in a span of only two weeks.
-- Adding insult to injury, one of them was told not to contest the decision of his termination. If he did, then Mrs. Noble said that she will have to state a reason for the termination that will tarnish his record which, in effect, would deprive him of possible UN employment opportunities in the future.
-- Several verbal threats to staff that their contracts will not be renewed if targets are not achieved or performance is not acceptable to her. She even made a threat to withhold a staff member’s salary if performance is not up to her standards.
-- Mrs. Noble’s impossible, whimsical requests and demands to be included in certain high-level meetings and conferences have led to incidents where staff had to push themselves to the limit to satisfy her. There was an incident where a staff had to stay late at night for two days just to enable her to get into an event she, for some reason, craved to be in. When everything has been arranged, she decided last minute not to go anymore, without any explanation or apologies.
-- A very grave infraction committed by Mrs. Noble was her incursion into staff privacy in communications. She had one of the staff member’s office cellphone seized, its contents downloaded, on mere unfounded accusation of a PMO staff that the staff member was spreading malicious messages about her. Mrs. Noble made no amends nor even offered an apology even when the exercise did not yield information incriminating the staff whose cellphone was seized.