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MANILA, Philippines – A commissioner of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) was ordered dismissed due to nepotism.
In a statement on January 17, CHED said the Office of the Ombudsman found Commissioner Jo Mark Libre guilty of nepotism and grave misconduct in case OMB-C-A-APR-23-0049. The commission, which oversees tertiary education in the country, added it was ordered to implement the decision on Libre’s case.
The Ombudsman ordered Libre’s dismissal from service, which will also carry “cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits except for accrued leave credits, and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in government service,” CHED added.
Reporters reached out to the Ombudsman for the resolution, but a copy of the said document has yet to be provided, as of writing. The Ombudsman handles complaints (administrative, civil and criminal) against public officials “in order to promote efficient service by the Government to the people.”
Libre served as chairman-designate of the board of regents in at least 24 state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the country. Due to his dismissal, CHED chairperson Prospero de Vera issued a memorandum to transfer the SUCs to other members of the commission.
In its statement, CHED said the Ombudsman’s resolution stemmed from allegations about Libre’s alleged “recommendation of nepotic appointment” of his relatives under his supervision.
The country’s administrative code prohibits nepotism.
Section 59 of the said code defines the violation as “…appointments in the national, provincial, city and municipal governments or in any branch or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations, made in favor of a relative of the appointing or recommending authority, or of the chief of the bureau or office, or of the persons exercising immediate supervision over him.”
But aside from the dismissal order by the Ombudsman, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Davao Region in 2019 found Libre guilty of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, fabrication of official documents, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service.
As punishment, the CHED said the CSC subjected Libre to a range of penalties that included dismissal from service and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
A report by SunStar said the CSC complaint was filed by then-Davao del Norte State College (DNSC) president Jonathan Bayogan in 2017 over allegedly overpriced plane tickets. Libre was a former faculty member of DNSC.
In November 2023, the CSC affirmed its decision against Libre, but modified its ruling and declared that he was not guilty of falsification of documents, the SunStar report added.
Academic from Davao
Libre was an appointee of former president Rodrigo Duterte, according to information posted by CHED in 2022. Duterte signed Libre’s appointment papers on February 9, 2022.
He replaced former commissioner Perfecto Alibin and was supposed to serve until July 21, 2025. Libre was an alumnus of the Ateneo de Davao University, where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science degree.
CHED said Libre was later awarded a scholarship by the commission and finished his Master of Arts in Political Science major in Global Politics at the Ateneo de Manila University. He obtained another graduate degree – Master of Public Administration – from the University of Science and Technology of Southeastern Philippines.
Libre obtained his Doctor of Public Administration from the Ateneo de Cagayan-Xavier University. Before his stint at CHED, he served as Vice President for Communications and External Affairs at the Jose Maria College Foundation Inc. in Davao City, CHED noted.
“Libre’s areas of specialization encompass political science, international politics, global governance, international relations, comparative politics, conflict resolution, political methodologies, public administration, public policy analysis, public administrative system, political parties and interest groups, and philippine administrative system,” the commission added. – Rappler.com