Posted: Thursday, March 11, 2021. 6:15 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: Today the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) expressed its solidarity with the Association of Public Service Senior Managers (APSSM) and Dr. Marvin Manzanero in their ongoing battle against the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW), which is seeking to have Manzanero replaced as Director of Health Services (DHS).
The NTUCB strongly condemned the Ministry’s decision to place Manzanero on administrative leave on allegations of misconduct, categorizing the decision as an utter disregard of due process by the Ministry. The Congress stressed that, from its perspective, the mere suggestion that he may be guilty of misconduct in the performance of his duty as the DHS is unacceptable.
“The allegations against Dr. Manzanero are trumped-up charges that are only now being proffered in a desperate attempt to justify the need for his replacement. As such, there is absolutely no substance to the allegations and it further demonstrates the blatant and unwarranted political interference into the Public Service even though there are clear constitutional guidelines governing not only the office of the DHS but all Public Officers,” the NTUCB said.
The Congress called on the Ministry and its Chief Executive Officer to respect the rule of law and allow the Public Service to operate free of partisan political interference, which was outlined in the current administration’s good governance agenda during its election campaign.
Last year, Manzanero had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and in his absence, Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa, daughter-in-law of former People’s United Party (PUP) Leader Said Musa, had served as Acting DHS. However, upon his return in February 2021, Manzanero found that the Ministry had no intention of allowing him to continue being DHS and offered him two other posts, both of which were essentially demotions. The APSSM took up his case and noted to the Ministry that Manzanero cannot be demoted or transferred without the permission of the Public Service Commission’s Job Reclassification Unit.
The Ministry then placed Manzanero on administrative leave, alleging that Dr. Manzanero had contributed to the rise of COVID-19 infections back in 2020 because he refused an offer from the Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA) to use their laboratory to accelerate testing results.
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