Ex-CHED exec director Vitriolo pleads not guilty in graft case
MANILA, Philippines – Dismissed Commission on Higher Education (CHED) executive director Julito Vitriolo pleaded not guilty to the graft charge he is facing over the irregular diploma program at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM).
Vitriolo pleaded “not guilty” before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s 1st Division on Friday, November 17. The court previously dismissed the first of his two graft charges last October.
The Office of the Ombudsman is accusing Vitriolo of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act over the allegedly irregular 1996 agreement between the PLM and the National College of Physical Education (NCPE) to operate diploma programs using PLM's facilities.
The Ombudsman found Vitriolo guilty of grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, incompetence, and inefficiency. He also violated the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees for failing to investigate and stop NCPE's diploma programs.
These were the same reasons why the Ombudsman dismissed Vitriolo from office in January 2017. But the Court of Appeals (CA) 12th Division later overturned Vitriolo's dismissal in August, saying the charges against him were "too harsh" and "disproportionate” to his offense.
This has caused a power struggle in CHED. Vitriolo took back his former office at the commission in September, but CHED chairperson Patricia Licuanan refuses to recognize his return, arguing that his dismissal stands despite the CA ruling.
Ex-presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella later said the Ombudsman’s decision to dismiss Vitriolo stands. It “remains executory, notwithstanding any other decision of the Court of Appeals, which has not yet attained finality.” – Rappler.com