Ombudsman junks administrative, criminal complaints vs Licuanan

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the criminal and administrative complaints against former Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Patricia Licuanan and two others stemming from charges filed by a former CHED official.

The two others are former CHED executive director Karol Mark Yee, and Luisa Valencia,  current director of CHED's Office of Institutional Quality Assurance and Governance, CHED said in a press statement on Tuesday, August 27.

Former CHED director Julito Vitriolo had filed malversation, grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and conduct unbecoming of a public official against Licuanan, Yee, and Valencia, claiming that they  conspired to cause him “undue injury to the extent of his monthly salaries and benefits” and that they embezzled public funds. 

CHED said the complaints were dismissed on March 29, but it only announced the Ombudsman's decision on Tuesday.

CHED quoted Ombudsman Samuel Martires as saying in the resolution that the complaints were dismissed  because there was “no evidence presented to show that respondents took, misappropriated or consented or through abandonment or negligence, permitted another person to take the public funds.”

The Ombudsman added that Vitriolo "failed to establish that respondents transgressed and established a definite rule of action, unlawful behavior or gross negligence." 

Vitriolo had also filed a complaint against current CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera III for refusing to reinstate him as executive director. Vitriolo was earlier dismissed in January 2017, but the Court of Appeals (CA) overturned his dismissal. He was "reinstated immediately" by the court that August. 

This caused a power struggle for the post of executive director in the agency, with Vitriolo holding office after Yee had already been appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Yee resigned from his post after allegedly receiving “unceasing harassment and relentless threats” since he was appointed to replace Vitriolo. 

Yee left the commission just two weeks after the forced resignation of former chairperson Licuanan. Duterte himself said that he had threatened to file a case against her if she did not step down. –