Cebu News

Stay order went unheeded: Palace warns CHED on SWU spat, favors PHINMA

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - For the second time, Malacañang has ordered the Commission on Higher Education to recognize the College of Medicine under the Southwestern University, Inc.-Phinma Corp.

The Office of the President has denied the motion for reconsideration filed by CHED and the SWU Matias H. Aznar Memorial College of Medicine, Inc. (SWU-MHAM) in relation to a Stay Order dated August 13, 2015.

“This Office reiterates its order upon appellees to stay and refrain from (enforcing) the execution of CHED Resolutions dated 09 June 2014 and 17-18 December 2014 during the pendency of the appeal to avoid any undue prejudice to parties concerned, most especially the affected medical students,” read the January 12 order signed by Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs Menardo Guevarra.

The two CHED resolutions recognized that the College of Medicine belongs to SWU-MHAM, prompting SWUI to raise the matter to the Office of the President.

“Failure to comply with the orders of this Office or attempts to circumvent the same shall be meted with the appropriate administrative sanctions,” added the January 12 order.

When Malacañang issued its first order, CHED argued that the Office of the President where it is attached has no power over the issue.

SWUI, however, objected to the argument, saying that the Office of the President may review the CHED decision in the exercise of the President’s power of control over all executive offices.

“This Office finds no compelling reason warranting a reversal or modification of the subject Stay Order,” Malacañang said.

Dr. Chito Salazar, SWUI president and chairman of the board, said they will file contempt charges against CHED for not obeying Malacañang.

He said CHED is putting their medical school graduates in a difficult situation since they are not issued with Special Order numbers and Certificates of Eligibility required in the taking of licensure examinations.

This also resulted to foreign students, who only have student visas, being forced to overstay in the country.

Salazar has appealed for CHED to find a win-win solution, with the aim of making Cebu proud for producing world-class medical students.

“Our biggest concern is the welfare of the students,” he said.

Last year, 23 graduates were not given the SO and 60 foreigners were not issued certificates of eligibility due to the conflict. 

Jake Vicera, a member of the Medicine Student Body Organization, said they are also considering the filing of charges against CHED-7 Director Freddie Bernal and other officials for violating students’ right.

Established in 1970, the SWU-College of Medicine was originally called the SWU-MHAM.

In 2013, conflict among the nine members of the school’s board of directors, who are also members of the Aznar family, resulted to the division of SWU-CM into two factions, with both claiming government recognition to operate the college.

One faction is the SWU-CM Foundation, which still operates at the SWU campus in Urgello Street under six of the Aznar heirs. The other faction, also claiming to be the “true” SWU medical school, is the MHAM-CM Foundation under the management of three of the Aznar heirs.

The two school factions temporarily operated at the SWU campus until March 2014, when the SWU Board of Trustees booted MHAM-CM out of the Urgello campus. The MHAM-CM is still operating as a medical school near the Redemptorist church.

The school underwent further changes in April 2015, when Phinma Corporation acquired 57 percent of SWU. The P1.9-billion takeover allowed the election of six Phinma executives into the BOT, which had been controlled by the Aznar heirs for 64 years. — /RHM (FREEMAN)

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