By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Due to conduct prejudicial to public interest, a former official of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has been dismissed anew by the Ombudsman.
In a statement, CHED Chairman J. Prospero de Vera III confirmed that former CHED Executive Director Julito Vitriolo was dismissed by the Ombudsman on December 16, 2019.
“The Ombudsman approved the decision which finds Vitriolo liable for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and simple misconduct,” he said. “There is also an accessory penalty for Vitriolo to be no longer employed in government service,” he added.
De Vera said that the dismissal was based on a case filed by former CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan against Vitriolo. In 2016, Vitriolo called for the resignation of Licuanan. “In asking for the resignation of Licuanan and in inducing others to seek her replacement as CHED Chairperson, Vitriolo overstepped the bounds of propriety and ethical standards,” de Vera noted. “His comportment tarnished the image of his office as he created an atmosphere of leadership impasse within CHED and sowed disunity,” he explained.
CHED noted that Vitriolo was previously dismissed on December 2016 by former Ombudsman Conchita Morales based on the “alleged irregularities” at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM).
De Vera noted that the administrative liability of Vitriolo anent the charges hurled against him by Oliver Felix, former faculty member of PLM, has “yet to be resolved by the SC” – thus, “it is a live issue which is still pending determination in the separate pending case” docketed as G.R. No. 237129 entitled “Oliver B. Felix v. Julito D. Vitriolo.”
“Despite the pendency of the said case, a dismissal order of OMB is immediately executory,” de Vera said. “CHED will implement this recent OMB case and dismiss Vitriolo anew from government service,” he added.
De Vera explained that Vitriolo was also ordered suspended for three months by Ombudsman Martires on October 4, 2019 for his issuance of a memorandum recommending that CHED “issue a provisional permit in favor of a private school.” This memorandum, the CHED chairman said, was “in violation” of CHED’s en banc resolution – which earlier “disapproved” the said school’s application.
Fight vs corruption
Meanwhile, de Vera noted that the CHED “fully supports” the efforts of the Ombudsman to expedite action on cases against public officials.
De Vera cited that the CHED signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ombudsman and the University of the Philippines recently to “aggressively promote ethics and accountability in higher education institutions (HEIs).”
“As part of our commitment to fully support the efforts of the Ombudsman to cleanse the bureaucracy and instill good governance, CHED will make sure that the commission is a bastion of good governance practices,” De Vera ended.
Aside from the partnership with the Office of the Ombudsman and UP, CHED is also pushing for inclusion of “integrity subjects” in HEIs to “fight corruption.” De Vera said that CHED is partnering with student groups and companies to battle corruption and produce a “more ethical and committed” Filipino generation in the future.