Ex-CHED official acquitted of graft

Published December 10, 2019, 3:03 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki 

Former Director III and Officer-in-Charge of Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Regional Office IV-B (MIMAROPA) Maria Rita Ortiz has been acquitted by the Sandiganbayan Second Division of her graft charge involving the reportedly anomalous issuance of a permit to offer a nursing program.

She was slapped with a violation of Section 3(j) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act due to the issuance of a Provisional Permit in favor of St. Anthony College of Science and Technology (SACST) to offer the 1st and 2nd year levels of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program for school year 2004-2005 back on June 11, 2004.

However, the prosecution said this went against CHED En Banc Resolution No. 238-2004, which disapproved the school’s application.

Section 3(j) prohibits government officials from “knowingly approving or granting any license, permit, privilege or benefit in favor of any person not qualified for or not legally entitled to such license, permit, privilege or advantage.”

During the trial, Ortiz argued that she issued the provisional permit in good faith. She explained that she merely relied on the memorandum issued by Acting Executive Director Atty. Julio Vitriolo dated June 4, 2004, which provides that the Regional Quality Assessment Team favorably recommended the issuance of the permit to SACST.

Since the prosecution failed to prove that Ortiz had knowledge of the contents of the CEB Resolution, the anti-graft court decided to rule in her favor.

Ortiz only came to know of the contents of the CEB Resolution when she attended a meeting in the Central Office. At the time, she was already assigned to CHED RO VIII.

As a sign of her good faith, Ortiz informed the Commission that the SACST was granted a provisional permit. She wrote a letter to Acting Chairman Carlito Puno dated June 3, 2005 informing him that the memorandum of Vitriolo was the basis of the permit grant.

“Based on the aforementioned acts of accused Ortiz of informing the Commission of the grant of provisional permit and the corresponding basis for the same, accused Ortiz has shown that she only granted the permit upon the directive of Vitriolo,” the court’s decision read.

“In fact, the Court agrees that there appears to be no irregularity on the face of the memorandum to warrant a reasonable suspicion as to its invalidity,” it added.

The 26-page decision was written by Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi with the concurrence of Chairperson Oscar Herrera Jr. and Associate Justice Lorifel Pahimna.

 
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Ex-CHED official acquitted of graft

Published December 10, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki 

Former Director III and Officer-in-Charge of Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Regional Office IV-B (MIMAROPA) Maria Rita Ortiz has been acquitted by the Sandiganbayan Second Division of her graft charge involving the reportedly anomalous issuance of a permit to offer a nursing program.

She was slapped with a violation of Section 3(j) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act due to the issuance of a Provisional Permit in favor of St. Anthony College of Science and Technology (SACST) to offer the 1st and 2nd year levels of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program for school year 2004-2005 back on June 11, 2004.

However, the prosecution said this went against CHED En Banc Resolution No. 238-2004, which disapproved the school’s application.

Section 3(j) prohibits government officials from “knowingly approving or granting any license, permit, privilege or benefit in favor of any person not qualified for or not legally entitled to such license, permit, privilege or advantage.”

During the trial, Ortiz argued that she issued the provisional permit in good faith. She explained that she merely relied on the memorandum issued by Acting Executive Director Atty. Julio Vitriolo dated June 4, 2004, which provides that the Regional Quality Assessment Team favorably recommended the issuance of the permit to SACST.

Since the prosecution failed to prove that Ortiz had knowledge of the contents of the CEB Resolution, the anti-graft court decided to rule in her favor.

Ortiz only came to know of the contents of the CEB Resolution when she attended a meeting in the Central Office. At the time, she was already assigned to CHED RO VIII.

As a sign of her good faith, Ortiz informed the Commission that the SACST was granted a provisional permit. She wrote a letter to Acting Chairman Carlito Puno dated June 3, 2005 informing him that the memorandum of Vitriolo was the basis of the permit grant.

“Based on the aforementioned acts of accused Ortiz of informing the Commission of the grant of provisional permit and the corresponding basis for the same, accused Ortiz has shown that she only granted the permit upon the directive of Vitriolo,” the court’s decision read.

“In fact, the Court agrees that there appears to be no irregularity on the face of the memorandum to warrant a reasonable suspicion as to its invalidity,” it added.

The 26-page decision was written by Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi with the concurrence of Chairperson Oscar Herrera Jr. and Associate Justice Lorifel Pahimna.

 
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