CHEd exec Vitriolo dismissed from service over diploma mill case
The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed from service Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Executive Director Julito Vitriolo for misconduct, neglect of duty and incompetence as he faces a graft trial over a diploma mill operation.
Vitriolo was ordered terminated as he is caught in a power play with CHEd Chairperson Patricia Licuanan, whom Vitriolo wanted replaced by newly appointed commissioner Prospero de Vera.
Sought for his reaction, Vitriolo said he was surprised that the Ombudsman failed to take into account other considerations in the case.
Vitriolo said he would appeal the Ombudsman’s dismissal order.
“First of all, I was surprised with the decision of the Ombudsman cause I believe there were considerations that were not taken into account. The decision is not yet final and we will definitely appeal the said decision,” Vitriolo said in a text message to reporters.
In a statement on Thursday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered Vitriolo’s dismissal after he was found guilty of the administrative offenses of grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, incompetence and inefficiency.
Vitriolo was also indicted for violations of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, as well as Sections 3(a) and 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The Ombudsman said Vitriolo “acted with gross negligence for failing to heed the demand to investigate and stop the diploma mill, and for allowing the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) to issue transcripts of records and diplomas based on a suspended education program.”
The Ombudsman said that in 1996, the PLM and the National College of Physical Education (NCPE) entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for NCPE to use the facilities of PLM without compensation for a program to issue diplomas to graduates.
But former PLM President Adel Tamano in 2008 suspended the MOA after a Commission on Audit report said that the agreement was prejudicial to the interests of the university.
But in 2010, Vitriolo maintained that despite the suspension of the program, the transcript of records could still be issued by the PLM under the MOA “based on vested rights.”
The Ombudsman also said Vitriolo failed to lead an investigation on the implementation of the program and also failed to comply with requests for information on a program of education.
The Ombudsman said Vitriolo failed to act on requests to investigate PLM over the diploma mill operation that duped 703 students.
Vitriolo was found liable for an ethical breach for his failure to reply to letter-requests for information on the MOA and for investigation on the alleged diploma mill within the 15-day period prescribed under Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
“By sheer inattention to communications addressed to him, the respondent showed not even the slightest care about requests from the public,” Morales said in the joint resolution.
“Vitriolo failed to realize that such omission would result in adverse consequences to public funds spent in the implementation of the suspended PLM-NCPE MOA, and to 703 students under the MOA who had to suffer financial reverses for spending time and money for an education that was worthless in the eyes of the law,” she added.
The Ombudsman also noted that Vitriolo had a history of being penalized by the office.
Based on its records, the Ombudsman had already ordered Vitriolo suspended for one month without pay for misconduct in May 1999 for signing a memorandum without the authority to do so.
“(R)espondent showed his disregard for proper norms of official conduct resulting in the exacerbation of the hemorrhaging internal conflict at the CHED connected to its leadership crisis,” the Ombudsman said in the suspension order against Vitriolo then.
“Any public official who transgresses the standards for good public service or causes such transgression must bear the consequences,” Morales said in Vitriolo’s dismissal order now.
The power play in CHEd stemmed from Vitriolo’s call for President Rodrigo Duterte to sack Licuanan after the latter was told to desist from attending Cabinet meetings due to “irreconcilable differences.”
Vitriolo had called on the President to appoint De Vera as officer-in-charge and replace Licuanan, whose stay in CHEd would allegedly put the office in “limbo.”
Licuanan, twice appointed by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2010 and 2014, has a fixed term of four years as CHEd chairperson./rga
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