Licuanan: Cavite school did not violate any CHED rules

MANILA, Philippines – The chairman of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said that, to her knowledge, a government-run school in Cavite did not violate any rules when it invited Vice President Jejomar Binay to deliver his counter-State of the Nation Address (SONA) on school grounds and required students to attend the event.

“For now, I don’t [think] that we have any specific CMO (CHED memorandum order) or rules with regard to things that students are not allowed or [are] prescribed to attend [an event],” Chairperson Patricia Licuanan said on Friday, August 8.

“I think, in many ways, that’s also part of the prerogative of the institution,” she added.

A memo released by the Cavite State University (CvSU) on Thursday, July 30, required 3rd and 4th year college students to attend a “student assembly” in the university’s gymnasium on August 3 at 4 pm, which eventually turned out to be the same date and venue for Binay’s speech.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda has since asked CvSU president Divinia Chavez to explain the mandatory student attendance. (READ: Binay camp hits Palace 'scare tactics' vs Cavite school)

According to Licuanan, CHED decided to look into the matter as “there were a lot of people also calling our attention to it.”

“So it made sense that we find out what really happened. That’s what we’re trying to find out and we are still in the process of finding out,” she added.

Licuanan said that she had spoken with Chavez and CvSU Central Student Government president Vincent Bae, who told her that the memo was issued before Binay even confirmed that he was attending the school event.

“I was told the memo was sent out Thursday morning and in the afternoon, they got confirmation that VP Binay would be the speaker,” she said.

Right after President Aquino delivered his SONA on July 27, the Vice President said he would be delivering the "True SONA" but didn't say when and where, despite followups from reporters days after. Binay, however, was scheduled to visit towns and cities in Cavite that week, starting on Thursday.

In an initial interview with one of Binay's spokesman, Mon Ilagan, a newspaper reported that the counter-SONA would be held at the Cavite capitol grounds. However, the Vice President’s office sent an advisory to newsroom only on Sunday evening that he would be delivering it instead in CvSU. (READ: Binay in Cavite: Counter-SONA in opposition bailiwick)

Who decides 'partisanship'?

For now, Licuanan said CHED is checking if CvSU was “indulging in partisan politics” by inviting Binay to speak.

“But that is very difficult to define. I would expect that the students of Cavite State [University who] did invite Vice President Binay will be inviting other politicians as well,” she said.

She clarified, however, that it would be CvSU’s board of regents, not CHED, which will decide what to do regarding the matter.

“Ultimately, it should be the board of regents of the institution, because CHED does not have that kind of police role over institutions,” she said. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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