MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Executive Director Julito Vitriolo denied that some officials were “pressured” to sign the manifesto that asked President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint an officer-in-charge to replace Chairperson Patricia Licuanan.
Vitriolo made the statement after Licuanan alleged that Vitriolo was behind the ouster move against her.
“The manifesto was read by those who signed and they did it voluntarily, kaya ‘yung ayaw (that’s why those who didn’t want to) did not sign. It’s a manifesto requesting the President to put back the CHED in the Cabinet again so that we are in the mainstream just like the other two education agencies,” Vitriolo told Rappler in a text message Friday, December 16.
At least 17 CHED officials and employees signed the manifesto that echoed Vitriolo’s December 8 letter asking the President to designate Commissioner Prospero de Vera III as officer-in-charge, and to appoint 3 new CHED commissioners.
Vitriolo believes Licuanan no longer enjoys the trust and confidence of Duterte, since she was asked to stop attending all Cabinet meetings of the current administration.
The incumbent chairperson has refused to resign, citing her fixed term until 2018.
Licuanan said in a media interview Friday that some of the officials were “regretful” about signing the manifesto, while some “did not know what they were signing.” (READ: Licuanan: Vitriolo has ‘track record’ of undermining past CHED chairs)
Meanwhile, one high ranking official “categorically and vehemently” denied that he signed the manifesto.
In a December 13 letter to the Manila Bulletin, CHED Deputy Executive Director Napoleon Imperial asked its president and publisher, Hermogenes Pobre, to issue an erratum after it published that he signed the manifesto along with the other officials.
“I categorically and vehemently deny that I signed the manifesto,” he wrote, and enumerated 8 other officials who did not sign the manifesto as well. (READ: ‘No demoralization in CHED’ despite Duterte order – commissioner)
“I trust that your highly-esteemed publication would continue to adhere to the highest standards of reporting by checking on the accuracy of facts and the delivery of truthful information,” Imperial added.
On Licuanan’s second term
Vitriolo on Friday maintained that Licuanan’s second term in office must be treated as “at the pleasure of the new appointing authority” because it goes beyond the term of former President Benigno Aquino III’s 6-year term.
Aquino reappointed Licuanan in 2014, after her first 4-year term.
“That’s why there is the ‘professional practice’ of courtesy resignation of the incumbents from the previous administration. Out of delicadeza, the incumbent chair must submit courtesy resignation. This happened in the case of Chairperson [Angel] Alcala and the other commissioners during presidency of Erap,” he told Rappler.
He reiterated that Cabinet members are “alter egos” of the President.
“CHED has to advise the president on higher education, and CHED should implement the plans and programs of the President. How can we achieve this if the nexus of chair and the President is absent? If DepEd and TESDA are in the cabinet, why wouldn’t CHED be?”
De Vera: Licuanan’s allegations ‘unfounded’
On Saturday, De Vera also reacted to Licuanan’s statement that he and Vitriolo “are, independently or in collaboration with each other, kind of working towards the same thing.”
He said Licuanan’s accusation that he is working with Vitriolo to kick her out “is not only spiteful, it is also unfounded.”
He reiterated that he had nothing to do with Duterte’s order to Licuanan, as well as the manifesto signed by the CHED officials.
The newly-appointed commissioner also said he has not called for Licuanan’s resignation.
“I call on Dr. Licuanan to immediately retract her statement or show concrete proof to substantiate her allegations,” he said in a statement Saturday.
He added: “I would advise her that instead of making these accusations and imagining that people are conspiring to bring her down, she should use her time to reflect and find out why the President asked her to stop attending cabinet meetings.” – Rappler.com