Licuanan says exec director Vitriolo helped kick her out of CHED

MANILA, Philippines – Resigned Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairperson Patricia Licuanan believes executive director Julito Vitriolo helped stoke the corruption allegations thrown at her.

Licuanan, in a Rappler Talk interview on Tuesday, January 23, was asked to clarify what she meant in her resignation speech last week that “there are persons determined to get me out of CHED.”

She said the accusations against her were done by a “combination of several groups” helped by CHED “insiders.”

These include two lawmakers – PBA Representative Jericho Nograles, who accused her of going on excessive foreign travels in 2017, and Iligan Representative Frederick Siao, who blamed her for the alleged delay of the release of 9,500 teacher-scholars. 

Nograles even claimed Licuanan had bypassed Duterte by approving several "Authority to Travel Abroad" documents for herself. But Licuanan said these are internal documents used as an attachment when securing travel permits from Malacañang. 

Licuanan zeroed in on Vitriolo, whose reinstatement to CHED was contested by Licuanan before her resignation. (READ: Power struggle in CHED after Vitriolo returns as executive director)

“Obviously there were insiders who had to help them. Where will they get those documents? And I do know again that Atty Vitriolo is extremely influential. Thus, [he] can be very authoritative and cash in on all of the years they have been together in CHED,” said Licuanan.

“He always likes to say that 'I have been in CHED for 24 years since it started and in government for 36 years.' So he has a following. He has friends,” she added. 

Vitriolo, however, said he does not even know Nograles and Siao. 

“It’s quite pathetic that up to now she is still taking about her removal from office by President Duterte. She did something wrong and the President acted accordingly. As to Congressman Nograles and Congressman Siao, I do not even know them,” he told Rappler in a text message.

Licuanan stepped down from her post on January 15 after receiving a phone call from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, who told her to resign.

He warned her that “worse” things will come for her if she does not leave her post.

‘Strained’ relations with CHED commissioners

The former CHED person has never been on the good side of Duterte, as she had been appointed by former president Benigno Aquino in 2010 and was re-appointed in 2014.

Her term was supposed to end in July this year.

When Duterte barred Licuanan to attend Cabinet meetings in December 2016, Vitriolo wrote a letter to Duterte asking him to appoint Commissioner Prospero de Vera III as CHED officer-in-charge instead. De Vera was appointed by Duterte.

Malacañang, however, did not act on Vitriolo’s letter.

According to Licuanan, she had a “strained” relationship with CHED Commissioners De Vera, Ronald Adamat, Lillian de las Llagas, and Perfecto Alibin as well.

Months before her resignation, Licuanan was being outvoted by the 4 commissioners in key CHED decisions.

Licuanan said only De Las Llagas had talked to her after she resigned. The others did not bother to see her.

“No, I was a little bit surprised that they did not even say goodbye,” she said.

Duterte is yet to appoint Licuanan’s replacement in CHED. – 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.

image