PHILIPPINE Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the dismissal from the service of Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Executive Director Julito Vitriolo after he was found guilty of Grave Misconduct, Gross Neglect of Duty, Incompetence and Inefficiency and violation of Republic Act No. 6713 (the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).
Vitriolo, who earlier sought the resignation of CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan after President Rodrigo Duterte barred her from attending cabinet meetings, is also set to face trial before the Sandiganbayan for alleged violation of Sections 3(a) and 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).
His indictment comes after investigation showed that he “acted with gross negligence for failing to heed the demand to investigate and stop the diploma mill, and for allowing the Pamantansan Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) to issue transcripts of record and diplomas based on a suspended education program.”
Furthermore, the records revealed that in 1996, the PLM and the National College of Physical Education (NCPE) entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) where “NCPE would use the facility of PLM without compensation but the PLM would select the faculty members for the agreed program and issue diplomas to the graduates.”
In 2008, former PLM President Adel Tamano suspended the MOA in view of a 2007 Commission on Audit finding that the agreement was prejudicial to the interest of the university.
However, despite its suspension, Vitriolo asserted in 2010 that the transcript of records could be issued by PLM to the graduates under the PLM-NCPE MOA “based on vested rights.” It was also established that respondent failed to comply with requests for information on a program of education or for investigation on the existence or implementation of such a program. Complainant Oliver Felix, a former PLM faculty, alleged that as early as 2011, he already requested Vitriolo to investigate allegations that the PLM was engaged in diploma mill operations.
In the Joint Resolution, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales explained that “Vitriolo failed to realize that such omission would result in adverse consequences to public funds spent in the implementation of the suspended PLM-NCPE MOA, and to 703 students under the MOA who had to suffer financial reverses for spending time and money for an education that was worthless in the eyes of the law.”
Vitriolo was also faulted for failing to reply to letter-requests for information on the PLM-NCPE MOA and to investigate the alleged diploma mill, within the 15-day period prescribed by Sec. 5(a) of R.A. No. 6713.
“By sheer inattention to communications addressed to him, the respondent showed not even the slightest care about requests from the public,” added Ombudsman Morales.
The questioned acts and omission of Vitriolo were further aggravated by the fact that this is not the first offense where respondent was penalized by the Office.
Based on Ombudsman records, Vitriolo was ordered suspended for one month without pay for misconduct in May 1999.
In that case, the Ombudsman held that “by signing a memorandum when he had lost the authority to do so, respondent showed his disregard for proper norms of official conduct resulting in the exacerbation of the hemorrhaging internal conflict at the CHED connected to its leadership crisis.”
“Any public official who transgresses the standards for good public service or causes such transgression must bear the consequences,” stated Ombudsman Morales.