Aquino fires Zamboanga school executive for ‘grave misconduct’

DIPOLOG CITY, Zamboanga del Norte—President Aquino has dismissed from service a Western Mindanao (WM) schools division superintendent  for “grave misconduct.”

Department of Education (DepEd) regional director Walter O. Albos announced the removal of Schools Division Superintendent (SDS) Teresita E. Cascolan of Dipolog City during a recent conference of field-school administrators here.

Albos said the dismissed school executive is a Career Executive Service Officer (Ceso) earlier appointed by the President who in effect, was also empowered to fire erring Cesos in any national government agency.

The dismissal order of Cascolan was signed for the President by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr., Albos said.

The case against the erring SDS, Albos said, was first reported to Education Secretary Armin A. Luistro by Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Rosendo Labadlabad (Second District) on the basis of a letter-complaint sent to him  by Dipolog City assistant SDS Felix Triambulo who detailed the irregular  procurement by the Dipolog City schools division of P20 million worth of unauthorized reading materials.

Luistro then created a fact-finding committee to investigate the anomaly alleged by Labadlabad even as the DepEd chief ordered the erring SDS to answer the complaint.

In her reply, Cascolan denied the allegations and claimed there was no irregularity in the purchase, without public bidding,  of the questioned instructional materials, most of which were supplementary books.

The probe body, however, found there was “prima facie case” and recommended the filing of administrative charges against the concerned SDS and seven members of the  school division Bidding and Accreditation Committee (BAC).

The Commission on Audit (COA) earlier warned Cascolan that the direct purchase of the reading materials, without justification, from Jedgar Enterprises and Meryland Publishing Corp., would violate Republic Act 9184.

Ochoa noted that “substantial evidence exists to prove that the Dipolog City DepEd chief abused her position as SDS when she insisted and approved the procurement of the questioned materials despite their non-inclusion in the DepEd-approved list of supplementary books and an existing DepEd moratorium on the purchase of the same.”

All the foregoing, Ochoa stressed, proved by substantial evidence the guilt of the erring  SDS for the offense of grave misconduct which is categorized in the Civil Service Revised Rules on Administrative Cases as “grave offense punishable with dismissal from the service even if committed for the first time.”

The Office of the President, Ochoa said, found the respondent Dipolog City school superintendent  “guilty of grave misconduct and imposed upon her the penalty of dismissal from the service which carries with it the cancellation of her superintendent and Ceso eligibilities, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and from taking civil service examinations.”

Only the other month, Luistro also dismissed from the service three Western Mindanao DepEd executives—a former regional director, a chief accountant and a cashier IV—who were found guilty in an administrative case filed against them for the anomalous  disbursement of over P15-million fund aid for local projects from the Belgian government.