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CHED officials cleared of graft, malversation charges

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by Allan Yves Briones

“(The complainant) failed to establish that respondents transgressed and established a definite rule of action, unlawful behavior or gross negligence.”

This, according to the Office of the Ombudsman last March 29, reiterated by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Tuesday.

According to CHED Office of the Executive Director Officer-in-Charge Cinderella Benitez-Jaro, the graft and malversation complaints against former chairperson Patricia Licuanan, former executive director Karol Yee and Office of Institutional Quality Assurance and Governance Director Luisa Valencia were dismissed by Ombudsman Samuel Martires for lack of evidence.

“[N]o evidence presented to show that respondents took, misappropriated or consented or through abandonment or negligence, permitted another person to take the public funds,” the resolution read.

The charges originated from former CHED executive director Julito Vitriolo who alleged that the aforementioned conspired to inflict “undue injury to the extent of his monthly salaries and benefits”, as well as the embezzlement of government funds.

Vitriolo filed with the Ombudsman several criminal and administrative charges including malversation, grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct unbecoming of a public official after he was removed from his post on graft allegations in January 2017.

His case was overturned by the Court of Appeals, and was granted immediate reinstatement.

Benitez-Jaro explained that Vitriolo’s arguments had no basis given that under the law his salaries could not be given until the court decision has “attained finality.”

“The collective acts were also supported by legal opinions of CHED Legal and Legislative Service, the Office of the President, and the Office of the Solicitor General, and that the CA decision may not be construed as immediately final and executory pending resolution of the motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court,” she added.

Several cases are still pending against CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera III and Commissioner Lilian de las Llagas from Vitriolo who claimed that the former refused to implement his reinstatement.

Just last January, Licuanan was forcibly resigned by President Rodrigo Duterte.

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