Commission on Higher Education Chairman J. Prospero De Vera III on Sunday, June 13, issued a statement in response to an open letter accusing the official of withholding educational funds and refusing to recognize the appointment of Cagayan State University (CSU) president.
In the letter published in a newspaper, De Vera has been accused of withholding the funds from Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education law (UAQTE) because he allegedly refused to recognize the appointment of Dr. Urduja Tejada as CSU President and appointed an Officer-in-Charge for the university.
De Vera said in a statement that the selection and appointment of all presidents of state universities and colleges (SUCs) are governed by CHED Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 16 s. 2009.
“As a matter of fact, Tejada’s appointment for her first term as CSU President strictly complied with the provision of CMO No. 16 s. 2009. The CSU Board of Regents (CSU BOR), however, disregarded CMO No. 16 s. 2009 and unilaterally reappointed Tejada to a second term,” he said.
He argued that all members of the Congress, including the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education (CHTE) Chairman Mark Go, who sit in the Board of all SUCs nationwide, used the CMO in selecting SUC Presidents or reappointing them.
“In the case of CSU, Cagayan 3rd District Rep. Joseph L. Lara (who is merely representing Chairman Go in the CSU BOR) refuses to adopt CMO No. 16 s. 2009 in the reappointment of Tejada,” he said.
“Clearly, the CSU BOR violated the existing CHED rules in the reappointment of Tejada to a second term. The fact that a majority of the board voted for her reappointment is immaterial,” he added.
The CHED chief pointed out that Tejada has no appointment paper signed by the appointing authority and duly attested by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) as required by the 2017 Omnibus Rules on Appointments and Other Human Resource Actions (2017 ORAOHRA).
“Notwithstanding the clear language of the 2017 ORAOHRA, Tejada, Mr. Ranhilio Aquino, together with her counsel, insisted under oath and in open court that she doesn’t need an appointment paper,” De Vera said.
“She is the only SUC President, if not the only appointed official, who has no appointment paper. The recognition by the CSU BOR of her reappointment via a Resolution cannot excuse Tejada’s compliance with the mandatory requirement of an appointment paper,” he added.
Because of the irregularities, De Vera said the Solicitor General has filed a quo warranto petition before the Regional Trial Court of Manila questioning her reappointment as the CSU President.
To address the issues in the implementation of RA 10931, in relation to the pending cases against Tejada’s reappointment, he said that the UniFAST Executive Director wrote the CSU BOR asking them if the funds can be moved through the CHED Regional Office so it can be used by CSU for its operations.
But the CSU BOR “insisted that the funds be given to Tejada.”
“The UniFAST Board (and CHED) cannot give funds to a private person and doing so will open the members of the Board (and Commission) to criminal and administrative cases. The Board (and CHED) cannot authorize the transfer of these funds to Tejada until the Quo Warranto case is finally resolved by the court,” he explained.
While the legitimacy of Tejada’s reappointment is still being contested, the CHED chairman said that students right under RA 10931 are not affected, adding that the Board is now exploring ways on how to give these funds to the stakeholders until all legal issues are resolved.
“Mr. Aquino has continuously attacked and vilified me in the media and social media and has been sending emails to all SUC Presidents and members of the Board of Regents of SUCs nationwide, questioning the authority of CHED Chairman and the Commission on this issue,” De Vera said.
“This fixation to attack me clearly shows his vain attempt to smokescreen the truth on the illegality of Tejada’s reappointment and assumption as CSU’s President,” he added.
He noted that he is not the chairman of the CSU Board of Regents and not involved in any decision making related to university.
“It is surprising why I am being singled out in the CSU issues considering that I have already inhibited on all issues relative to the reappointment of Tejada in deference to a Writ of Preliminary Injunction, which is still being questioned until now, issued by the Regional Trial Court in Tuguegarao City,” he said.
“In fine, all of these problems resulted from the actions of the CSU BOR that did not follow basic CHED and Civil Service Rules. The CSU BOR insists their actions are legal. The CHED insists its actions are legal. Let the Courts decide,” he added.