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On President's desist order to Licuanan

CHEd says it can function effectively even without part in Cabinet

/ 02:44 PM December 09, 2016
CHEd Chair Patricia Licuanan. FILE PHOTO

CHEd Chair Patricia Licuanan. FILE PHOTO

The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) has clarified that its chairperson, Patricia Licuanan, does not require a Cabinet membership for the agency to fully function.

“It is important to note that while Republic Act 7722 provides the rank of cabinet secretary to the CHEd Chairperson, historically, CHEd has functioned effectively even without being part of the President’s cabinet, such as during the time of Presidents Ramos, Estrada and Macapagal-Arroyo,” the agency said in an online statement released Thursday.

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“As stated earlier, the Commission fully respects the decision to exclude CHEd from the Cabinet, understanding that this is the prerogative of any sitting President.”

The statement was in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for Licuanan to “desist” attending Cabinet meetings.

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Vice President Leni Robredo, who headed the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, was also instructed to stop attending. Robredo immediately decided to resign from the Cabinet. Licuanan, on the other hand, said she will continue her work in CHEd.

The CHEd statement also responded to Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella’s comment that Licuanan is covered by  Memorandum Circular No. 4, which orders all appointees of former President Benigno Aquino III to submit their courtesy resignations.

READ: Malacañang reminds CHEd chair to submit courtesy resignation

It argued that Duterte himself assured Licuanan in June that he will respect her term of office, which will end in 2018.

The statement added that Licuanan was invited to be present at Cabinet meetings starting July 11 and “dutifully attended” the meetings after that.

“Throughout this period, Dr. Licuanan has been faithful in fulfilling her duties as CHEd Chairperson, and, recognizing her role as a member of the official family of the President, has been responsible and circumspect in making public statements that may in any way be misconstrued as being against President Duterte, primarily as a result of her being an appointee of then President Benigno S. Aquino III,” it said.

“These are the reasons why the Chairperson was surprised that she was instructed to desist from attending Cabinet meetings starting 5 December 2016, on the basis of ‘irreconcilable differences’ according to Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr.,” it added.

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CHEd pointed out that it was created as a commission headed by a chairperson chosen through “strict qualifications” and having “a fixed term of four years without prejudice to one reappointment.”

“By stipulating a term that makes the Chairperson of CHEd not co-terminus with the appointing authority, the law aimed to ensure continuity and protect the oversight agency for higher education from factors that would undermine its political neutrality,” it said. “This is further underscored by the fact that the appointment of the CHEd Chairperson is not confirmed by the Commission on Appointments of Congress, as practiced with the appointment of other cabinet secretaries.”

Licuanan was appointed in July 2010 and was reappointed in July 2014.

“With this, we would like to reiterate Dr. Licuanan’s commitment to continue her work as CHEd Chairperson, and are assured by recent statements from Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella that the Commission will continue to be supported by the Duterte Administration,” it said. JE/rga

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TAGS: Cabinet, Ched, desist order, Patricia Licuanan, Rodrigo Duterte
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