In a 13-page decision released Oct. 11, the ombudsman found Vitriolo guilty of the administrative offense of simple misconduct in connection with a complaint filed against him by former CHED chair Patricia Licuanan in February 2017.
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Ombudsman suspends CHED’s Vitriolo for misconduct
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - October 23, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the three-month suspension of dismissed Commission on Higher Education (CHED) executive director Julito Vitriolo in connection with the alleged issuance of a provisional permit to an unqualified private school in Oriental Mindoro in 2004. 

In a 13-page decision released Oct. 11, the ombudsman found Vitriolo guilty of the administrative offense of simple misconduct in connection with a complaint filed against him by former CHED chair Patricia Licuanan in February 2017.

The complaint stemmed from Vitriolo’s issuance of a memorandum dated June 4, 2004 recommending to then CHED Region 4-B director Ma. Rita Ortiz to grant a provisional permit in favor of St. Anthony College of Science and Technology (SACST) in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro to offer 1st and 2nd year levels of Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program for school year 2004-2005.

Licuanan said Vitriolo’s issuance of the recommendation contravened a CHED resolution that disapproved SACST’s permit application due to several deficiencies.

In its decision, the ombudsman noted the same CHED resolution stated that the schools whose permit application were denied, may still file an appeal before a committee composed of four CHED ranking officials, which included Vitriolo as then executive director.

The ombudsman said its investigation, however, revealed Vitriolo unilaterally issued the memorandum recommending the issuance of permit to SACST.

“The challenged memorandum... was signed by respondent (Vitriolo) only. He took it upon himself to rule on the appeal of SACST without consulting his co-members,” the ombudsman’s decision read.

“In fact, there is no evidence to show that the other members of the Appeals Committee concurred with respondent’s recommendation. Neither was there any proof that the Appeals Committee, indeed, deliberated on the appeals of SACST,” it added.

The ombudsman, however, downgraded Vitriolo’s offense to simple misconduct instead of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service originally charged by Licuanan. 

The ombudsman said it was not established that Vitriolo’s issuance of the memorandum was “motivated by ill will, sinister motive or corrupt purpose.”

The decision was prepared by graft investigation and prosecution officer Rose Ventayen-Vallejo and approved by Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Oct. 4.

The ombudsman clarified the suspension order is convertible to a fine equivalent to Vitriolo’s salary for three months.

The ombudsman had earlier dismissed Vitriolo for grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, incompetence and inefficiency over his supposed failure to investigate and stop the alleged anomalous issuance of diplomas and transcript of records at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) in 2010.

The ombudsman in its decision, however, said the dismissal order against Vitriolo is “not yet final and executory,” considering that he availed himself of legal remedies in courts. 

Vitriolo, in 2017, was able to obtain a favorable ruling from the Court of Appeals nullifying the ombudsman’s dismissal order and ordering his reinstatement. The CA’s decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court last June.

Vitriolo also recently secured a quo warranto ruling from Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QCRTC) Branch 83, nullifying the appointment of Cinderella Filipina Benitez-Jaro as his replacement.

The CHED, on the other hand, appealed the ruling.

The CHED, through a motion for reconsideration filed by Assistant Solicitor General Bernard Hernandez, asked the QCRTC Branch 83 to overturn his earlier order ousting Jaro as executive director of the commission.

Hernandez told the QCRTC that the matter of Vitriolo’s dismissal has yet to attain finality in the SC.

“The Honorable Court cannot preempt the resolution of the Supreme Court by granting the instant petition for quo warranto,” read the eight-page motion dated Oct. 21.

“The respondent was denied due process. This means that the resolution is void,” he added, referring to Jaro, who is currently occupying the office of the executive director as officer-in-charge. – With Janvic Mateo

COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION JULITO VITRIOLO
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