Friday, December 9, 2016

CHED Clarifies Issues on “Desist” Instructions

Wazzup Pilipinas!

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) seeks to clarify recent issues and events surrounding the instruction of Malacanang to desist from attendance at cabinet meetings.

In response to the statement of Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella referring to the 22 August 2016 Memorandum instructing all presidential appointees to submit courtesy resignations, the CHED Chairperson did not submit due to the following:

      Dr. Licuanan had a one-on-one meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte last 13 June 2016 in Davao and was personally assured by the President that he would respect her term of office and was instructed to continue doing her job.
      Dr. Licuanan has been invited and has dutifully attended the Cabinet meetings beginning the second cabinet meeting last 11 July 2016, up to the eighth cabinet meeting on 03 November 2016.
      Throughout this period, Dr. Licuanan has been faithful in fulfilling her duties as CHED Chairperson, and, recognizing her role as a member of the official family of the President, has been responsible and circumspect in making public statements that may in any way be misconstrued as being against President Duterte, primarily as a result of her being an appointee of then President Benigno S. Aquino III.

These are the reasons why the Chairperson was surprised that she was instructed to desist from attending Cabinet meetings starting 5 December 2016, on the basis of ‘irreconcilable differences’ according to Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr.

It must be recalled that CHED was created in 1994 through Republic Act No. 7722, as a Commission headed by a Chairperson instead of a Department. This meant strict qualifications and “a fixed term of four years without prejudice to one reappointment”. By stipulating a term that makes the Chairperson of CHED not co-terminus with the appointing authority, the law aimed to ensure continuity and protect the oversight agency for higher education from factors that would undermine its political neutrality. This is further underscored by the fact that the appointment of the CHED Chairperson is not confirmed by the Commission on Appointments of Congress, as practiced with the appointment of other cabinet secretaries.

The CHED Human Resources Division records show that Dr. Emmanuel Angeles’ term expired on 20 July 2010, thus, he only served the unfinished term of his predecessor, Romulo Neri. Its current Chairperson, Dr. Patricia B. Licuanan then assumed office in July 2010 and was reappointed for another four years in July 2014, with her term ending on July 2018.

As stated earlier, the Commission fully respects the decision to exclude CHED from the Cabinet, understanding that this is the prerogative of any sitting President. It is important to note that while Republic Act 7722 provides the rank of cabinet secretary to the CHED Chairperson, historically, CHED has functioned effectively even without being part of the President’s cabinet, such as during the time of Presidents Ramos, Estrada and Macapagal-Arroyo.

With this, we would like to reiterate Dr. Licuanan’s commitment to continue her work as CHED Chairperson, and are assured by recent statements from Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella that the Commission will continue to be supported by the Duterte Administration.

The Commission has and will continue to support the Duterte Administration’s goals, aligning higher education policies and programs to the ten-point socio-economic agenda of the current government.

Issued this 8th day of December 2016 at the Higher Education Development Center Building, C.P. Garcia Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City.

For the Commission:


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