CHED chair defends overseas trips, shows Malacañang permits

Mara Cepeda
CHED chair Patricia Licuanan denies the claim of Representative Jericho Nograles that she did not secure permits from Malacañang for her foreign trips in 2017

CLEARED. CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan says the Office of the President cleared all of her 8 foreign trips last year. File photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairperson Patricia Licuanan denied a lawmaker’s allegations she did not secure authorization from Malacañang for her foreign trips in 2017.

Licuanan on Saturday, January 6, clarified she got approval from the Office of the President for all her official and personal overseas trips last year. 

“I get a travel authority from the Office of the President for all my travel including personal trips. This is well-documented. I issue travel authorities for all CHED officials but not for myself,” said Licuanan. 

PBA Representative Jericho Nograles had accused her of bypassing President Rodrigo Duterte by approving several “Authority to Travel Abroad” documents for herself. Nograles posted the documents on Facebook. 

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“Usurpation of the powers of the President? Did #CHED Chairperson Licuanan usurp the power of President Rody Duterte by approving her own travel authority contrary to EO (Executive Order) 459 (series of 2005)?” said Nograles. 

EO No 459 states Cabinet officials like Licuanan must first get the approval of the Office of the President before they can travel abroad.

According to Licuanan, Nograles had obtained copies of an internal document within CHED, “which is routinely used to process the funds and is an attachment for securing Malacañang approval.”

Licuanan then gave reporters copies of the official travel authorities given to her by Malacañang for 8 trips:

  • March 29 to 31, 2017: Bangkok, Thailand, for a High-Level Panel Discussion on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls: A Pathway to Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

  • June 18 to 24, 2017: California, USA, for meetings with officials and researchers of the University of California (UC) System in Oakland and selected UC campuses for the Philippine-California Advanced Research Institutes Project

  • June 4 to 11, 2017: Paris, France, to inaugurate the Journée Pays Philippines upon the invitiation of Director General Beatrice Khaiat of Campus France

  • June 26 to July 1, 2017: Bonn, Germany, for the Dialogue on Innovative Higher Education Strategies Conference

  • August 29 to 31, 2017: Singapore for the study visit to Singapore Polytechnic of senior leaders of CHED, Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges, and participating state universities and colleges

  • October 10 to 13, 2017: Taipei, Taiwan for the Forum on Asian Dialogue for Innovation and Progress

  • October 27 to November 1, 2017: Singapore for a personal trip

  • November 15 to 25, 2017: USA and Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, for the 51st Annual Conference of the Canadian Bureau for International Education

All but one of Licuanan’s travel authorization papers were signed by Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

Her last authorization for a trip to the US and Canada was signed by acting Deputy Executive Secretary for General Administration Michael Ong. (READ: Malacañang: Signed travel authorities not defense for sacked officials)

Duterte had fired several officials over “junket trips,” the latest of whom was Marina Administrator Marcial Quirico Amaro III

Read the copies of Licuanan’s travel authorization documents below: 

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– Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.