Palace waiting for Licuanan’s courtesy resignation
(The Philippine Star) - December 7, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – President Duterte’s decision to exclude Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Patricia Licuanan from Cabinet meetings was in line with a memorandum calling for the resignation of appointees of the previous administration, Malacañang said yesterday.

Licuanan was named CHED chair during the term of former president Benigno Aquino III.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the memorandum circular, which was released last Aug. 22, was intended to rid the bureaucracy of corruption and to give Duterte a free hand in achieving his objectives.

“I think on Aug. 22, a letter, a memorandum, a circular was given. It was asking for the courtesy resignations of presidential appointees,” Abella said.  

“When I checked with the Office of the Executive Secretary, apparently there was no letter submitted from the commissioner,” he added.

When asked to react to Licuanan’s contention that she has a fixed term and is therefore not covered by the directive, Abella replied: “There was a request for a courtesy resignation.”

Republic Act 7722 or the Higher Education Act of 1994 states that the CHED chairman and the commissioners have a fixed term of four years, with possible reappointment.

Licuanan, who assumed as CHED chief in 2010, was reappointed by Aquino in 2014. Her second and last term will expire in 2018.

When asked why Duterte allowed Licuanan to attend Cabinet meetings after he issued the August memorandum, Abella replied: “Which I suppose implies that the President is somehow a gentleman.” 

Licuanan revealed last Monday that she was also asked to desist from attending Cabinet meetings just like Vice President Leni Robredo. 

Unlike Robredo who resigned from the Cabinet, Licuanan said she would continue her work as higher education chief.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) is urging Licuanan to resign after she was banned from attending Cabinet meetings in Malacañang.

Calling Licuanan anti-student and pro-capitalist, the NUSP said the CHED chief should not wait for her term to expire in 2018 and immediately step down from her post.

“During her term, she supported tuition and other school fees increases laid down by capitalist-educators, told students not to pursue college and to just finish technical-vocational courses to satisfy the global demands for cheap labor and violated students’ rights and welfare,” NUSP spokesman Kevin Castro said.

“We are advising her to stop whatever she is doing at CHED and to resign now as its chairperson,” he added.

Castro also said that under Licuanan’s tenure, Filipino youth have been struggling to make ends meet, citing increases in tuition and other fees in 304 private colleges and universities in 2016 alone.

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