Ombudsman suspends CHED executive director

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    THE Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the suspension of Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Executive Director Julito Vitriolo based on an administrative complaint filed two years earlier by former CHED secretary Patricia Licuanan.

    In a 13-page decision, the anti-graft body found Vitriolo guilty of simple misconduct, which is penalized by suspension from service for three months without pay.

    The investigating panel submitted its findings on March 28, 2019 and it was endorsed by Assistant Ombudsman Marilou Ancheta-Mejica on April 12, 2019 but it was approved by Ombudsman Samuel Martires only last October 4.

    Based on the 2017 complaint, Vitriolo was accused of overstepping the bounds of his authority when he issued a memorandum dated June 4, 2004 recommending the issuance of a provisional permit in favor of St. Anthony College of Science and Technology (SACTST) which allowed it to offer the course of Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in the first and second year levels for School Year 2004 -2005.

    Licuanan said Vitriolo’s memorandum violated CHED En Banc Resolution No. 238-2004 dated May 31, 2004 which disapproved the tertiary school’s application.

    Despite the respondent’s claim that he only acted in good faith in the performance of his official duties, the Ombudsman still found him guilty.

    However, it said Vitriolo’s action was not motivated by ill will or corrupt purpose which only made him liable for simple misconduct resulting in his suspension instead of grave misconduct which would have merited dismissal from service.

    “His issuance did not tarnish the integrity of the CHED considering that HEIs (Higher Education Institutions) whose previous applications for government permits to offer BSN programs were accorded the opportunity to appeal or request reconsideration,” the Ombudsman said.

    It noted that upon compliance with the requirements, SACST was eventually issued a regular permit to offer a BSN Program on March 13, 2006 followed by a government recognition on February 11, 2008.

    Vitriolo had contested the validity of the complaint on technical ground, citing his dismissal from office on the order of former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales dated December 29, 2016 in connection to a different case.

    He said that at the time of the filing of Licuanan’s complaint, he was technically not a government employee since the Ombudsman’s directive was supposed to be “immediately executory.”

    The Ombudsman said Vitriolo was mistaken.