CHED exec urges Duterte to clarify directive on Licuanan’s ‘termination’

IT appears President Duterte’s directive against Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Patricia Licuanan not to attend anymore Cabinet meetings is not yet definitive enough for her to leave her post voluntarily.

In a news conference in Malacañang, CHED Executive Director Julito Vitriolo said CHED officials are still in a “wait-and-see” situation on what Duterte means exactly when he directed Licuanan not to attend any more Cabinet meetings.

“Right now, it’s a wait-and-see situation really, because we have to get a definitive action also from higher authorities on the situation,” Vitriolo said.

“I think this will need some kind of definitive action because the previous events make it difficult for our chairman to function in the sense that she used to be a part of the Cabinet, and now she cannot become a Cabinet member,” he added.

Vitriolo said it would be better for the CHED that Licuanan’s status be clarified at the soonest, although, he said, the  CHED recognizes the power of control of the President even over the CHED commissioners.

Vitriolo admitted that as a lawyer, he believes that  Duterte’s directive to ban Licuanan from attending Cabinet meetings is “practically terminating that relationship.”

“We all know [and] even a first- year student of law would know that under the doctrine of qualified political agency, a Cabinet secretary or Cabinet member is the alter ego of the President, and that means the acts of the alter ego is presumptively the acts of the President unless disapproved or reprobated,” Vitriolo said.

“This proposed measure will prevent regulatory arbitrage, which is unfavorable to the growth of the industry and result in uneven levels of protection to the investing public,” Yap said.

But unlike Maria Leonor G. Robredo, who resigned her Cabinet post after being banned from Cabinet meetings, Licuanan refused to resign, invoking that she has a fixed term of office, which will run up to 2018, after being appointed to her second four-year term before former President Benigno S. Aquino III stepped down.

Vitriolo said she is “intelligent enough to discern the situation,” and whether it calls for her to voluntarily step down.

Malacañang officials, however, have been more blunt in saying that Licuanan’s continued stay in office was upon the mere tolerance of Duterte, on account of his gentlemanly habit.

Palace Spokesman Ernesto C. Abella cited a memorandum in August for all government officials to tender their courtesy resignation to allow the President a free hand in his campaign against corruption in the government.

“But when I checked with the Office of the Executive Secretary, apparently, there was no letter submitted from the commissioner [Licuanan],” Abella said in a news conference earlier this week.

Cabinet Secretary Leoncio B. Evasco, Jr., who relayed the directive to Licuanan for her not to attend Cabinet meetings anymore, said the directive was due to “irreconcilable differences” between Duterte and Licuanan.


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Dave Cagahastian is BusinessMirror's reporter covering the Office of the President and the Department of Labor and Employment. He has recently finished a law degree from the University of the Philippines, and holds a business degree from the International Academy of Business and Economics. In the past two years in a row, he had won the Sinag Financial Literacy Journalism Award sponsored by Sun Life Financial Philippines, getting the third place in 2014 then ‎the first prize in 2015.


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