‘Kingmaker’ at CHEd
Where does Commission on Higher Education Executive Director Julito Vitriolo get off trying to bamboozle CHEd and Malacañang to force its chair, Patricia Licuanan, to resign and replace her with newly appointed (Sept. 12) CHEd commissioner Prospero de Vera?
The latter has stoutly averred to anyone who would listen that he has nothing at all to do with Vitriolo’s attempts, and let us take his statement at face value. It is awfully difficult, though, because he supposedly enjoys the confidence of the President. Or at least this is what is being bruited about in the media, although the President has uncharacteristically shied away from admitting it, unlike how he mentioned Jose David Lapuz by name when he thought the post of CHEd chair was vacant. If you will recall, De Vera was mentioned in the media as Malacañang’s choice for president of the University of the Philippines, but this all came to naught.
So let’s concentrate on Vitriolo. He has been in CHEd for the longest time, but I doubt that he speaks “in behalf of the career and non-career officials and staff” of that institution, as he claims in his letter to the President. What is my basis for saying this? Because most of these officials and staff behave professionally, and wouldn’t want anyone who has been found guilty, not only once but twice, of grave misconduct, to speak for them.
The first case was in 2003, on the complaint of one of his clients regarding funds given to him for expenses involved in a hearing in a private case in the Visayas, when he apparently did not attend to the case at all and, further, traveled on official CHEd funds. This was by the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission.
The other case, which was resolved sometime in 2014, involved assuming an authority that is granted solely to the commission en banc. He had issued a certification (he was deputy executive director then) approving the offering of an online program by an institution. This was by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Grave misconduct is usually meted a penalty of dismissal. But in both times, he was able to have the offense and penalty downgraded. He served a one-month suspension in both cases, instead of dismissal.
The actions of the officials he claims to speak for actually speak for themselves. Vitriolo was one of two who “walked out” of a meeting of the National Directorate of CHEd held last Monday and Tuesday. The other was De Vera, who apparently disclaimed that he was walking out. Vitriolo had forewarned the press that there would be a “walkout,” and the press had come to record it. Nothing happened. And apparently, the CHEd Christmas party held after the meeting was attended by all and sundry, thus belying Vitriolo’s contention that CHEd was in crisis—in “grave peril,” with a “leadership vacuum.”
The signatories to a letter confirming Vitriolo’s claims were those who were directly under him. Other “signatories,” according to Nap Imperial, an official of CHEd, were “duped” into signing…
Another BTW: Vitriolo, in his letter to the President on Dec. 8, asked for “immediate action.” He wanted the National Directorate meeting either not to take place or be chaired by a new chair, specifically his candidate, De Vera.
To the credit of the President, no action was taken. The letter of Vitriolo was so brown-nosing, no self-respecting career civil servant would have written it.
That Vitriolo knows that his stance against Chair Licuanan has no basis in law can be gleaned from a text to him from Dan Rola, former chancellor of UP Visayas: “Hi Lito, Whatever happened? U HELPED ME A LOT N CRAFTING D DRAFT F 7722, PARTICULARLY D TERM F OFFICE OF D COMMISSIONERS, 2 PLACE CHED BEYOND D REACH F POLITICS. I WAS ADAMANT DAT U B D EXEC DIR WITHOUT A TERM AS D VANGUARD F Ched’s AUTONOMY. WHAT HAPPENED?”
This means that Vitriolo has been in full knowledge that CHEd was placed beyond the reach of politics, that the CHEd chair is not a Cabinet member, though with a Cabinet rank.
So stop trying to be a kingmaker at CHEd, Mr. Vitriolo. And don’t politicize the body.
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