GIAA security guard's job transfer scrutinized - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GIAA security guard's job transfer scrutinized

by Nick Delgado

Guam - Questions are being raised over an Airport Police security guard who was transferred to be an airport rescue firefighter without going through the necessary steps to take the position. But airport management contends there is nothing unusual about the transfer.

Despite austerity measures implemented at the Guam International Airport Authority, including the elimination of overtime hours for airport aircraft rescue firefighters, agency Executive Manager Carlos Salas defends a decision to transfer a security guard to be a firefighter.  Asked if a particular staffer went through the Merit System, Salas said, "No, this is a temporary assignment for this gentleman; he's not a permanent firefighter, he's there to assist."

Dan Mantanona spent the last two years as a security guard, but on Monday he took on his new position. The executive manager says Mantanona has prior federal firefighting experience.

But Committee Oversight on Public Safety member Adolpho Palacios says the transfer raises some concerns.  "There is a significant difference between airport fire and airport security - one is, of course, fire prevention and mitigation and the other is security," the Democrat policymaker said.  "The timing is suspect; it appears to me that the transfer is made for the purpose of enabling this particular person to be the person to go this particular training. And not so much to the benefit of the agency."

Mantanona started his new post just a day after the airport put out an official announcement calling for interested individuals to apply to be an airport firefighter.  Oversight chairperson Senator Tina Rose Muna-Barnes believes the temporary transfer just doesn't add up, saying, "There needs to be that merit process of applying and going through the interview process and if that was illegally done of course, it's cause for concern and something that I will look into."

She also said, "If there is an opening for the airport fire, we look for the most qualified person that has gone through that Merit System and not just one that has been taken from one division and thrown into another, and unless those qualifications are there, I'm going to tell you that the Merit System still needs to be looked at."

Salas, meanwhile, continues to defend the transfer, saying it's nothing unusual and Mantanona will help offset the work that's not being done by those AARF personnel who are going to be deployed.  "We don't have a perfect operations," he said.  "So we do have challenges in every aspect of our operations...the bottom line is that the airport is one agency and has to look at the overall picture of its operations.  Where there's a need here we'll address that, where there's a need there we'll address that."

And despite the austerity measures implemented just six months ago, Salas says the airport is now looking to fill vacant positions from employees who resigned.

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