Did Pres. Duterte erred in firing CHED Chairman Licuanan?

Did Pres. Duterte erred in firing CHED Chairman Licuanan?

The purge of suspected corrupt officials in government continues.

One after another, the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has been firing government officials who are suspected to be corrupt. Maintaining his campaign promise that was made last May of 2016.

Yesterday, Monday after the usual flag ceremony, Commission on Higher Education Chairman Patricia Licuanan made her unusual speech, finally succumbing to pressure and announced her resignation in front of the CHED employees.    *
Commission on Higher Education Chairwoman Patricia Licuanan (photo credit to owner)

Chairman Licuanan has been under fire for the delay of the release of CHED scholarship grants and other funds. In her flag ceremony speech, Licuanan said:

“Over the weekend I received a call from Executive Secretary [Salvador] Medialdea asking me to resign as chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education. While my term by law ends in July 2018, I have decided it is time to go.”

The resignation was brought about after the President Duterte ordered Licuanan, an appointee of former President Benigno Aquino III, to resign.

Party list representative Jericho Nograles of Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta accused Licuanan of grave misconduct and usurpation of authority for traveling without securing a travel authority from the Office of the President.

Licuanan denied the accusation. “It has become obvious that there are persons determined to get me out of CHED by hurling false and baseless accusations against me in what appears to be a fishing expedition and a well-orchestrated move in media,” she said.

“I was first accused of excessive travel. When records revealed that I traveled eight times officially in 2017 (with only five of these trips paid for by government), five times in 2016, six times in 2015, two times in 2014, and only three times in 2013, the accusation turned to travel without authority from the Office of the President,” the CHEd chief added.  *

According to the CHED chairman, her office was provided with the travel authority in meeting all her specific commitments in line with the agency’s internationalization mandate, and allowed her to travel business class to avoid the recurrence of vertigo.

“What I cannot understand is how Rep. Jericho Nograles got hold of my internal travel documents for the past five years. Only a few offices in CHEd had access to these. These are internal documents to support the administrative release of funds and while I sign the internal document for my own travels, my signing is always based on an official travel authority from Malacañang. The question is, who put these together and who offered it to the congressman?” she asked.

Licuanan also denounced allegations of corruption and mismanagement of funds.

“It has been my personal commitment to stamp out corruption in CHED since day one, despite the odds and the strong resistance,” she said.

“Although I vehemently deny the accusations against me, it is time to resign as my continued presence in CHED is inimical to the interest of the institution. It will only serve as lightning rod to attract more controversy that is distracting the agency from vigorously pursuing urgent reforms that will redound to the benefit of future generations of Filipinos. It is particularly important for CHED to focus on its work especially at this critical time when it prepares for the implementation of Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act,” she added.

Could there be a big player behind the decision to fire the CHED chairwoman?

Report from Manila Times

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