Court stops PLM from naming acting president

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A Manila court on Tuesday extended to 20 days a temporary restraining order (TRO) preventing the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) Board of Regents from appointing an acting president.

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Judge Liwliwa Hidalgo-Bucu of Regional Trial Court Branch 24, in her order dated July 21, 2014 but was released only to the media on Tuesday, ordered Artemio Tuquero, a retired Justice secretary and justice of the Court of Appeals, to remain PLM president for at least 20 days more after the 72-hour TRO lapses.

With the court ruling, Amado Valdez’s assumption to the post as acting university president suffered a setback.

Valdez was university chairman before he was tapped by the regents last July 8 as acting president.

The following day, July 9, Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada issued a letter designating Valdez as acting president.

Tuquero immediately went to court and he was granted a 72-hour TRO.

Summary hearings were held on July 14 and July 18 wherein both Tuquero and Valdez took the witness stand.

“After considering their respective testimonies and the arguments raised by the parties during the said summary hearings, the court finds that there is necessity to issue [a]Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) being prayed for, pending hearing on the application for a writ of preliminary injunction,” the judge said.

July 23 was set as hearing date to determine whether there is a need for the issuance of writ of preliminary injunction.

Tuquero assailed the resolution issued by the board of regents appointing Valdes as acting president, saying “it is null and void because it contravenes the provision under the PLM Charter which states that the university president shall be elected by the BOR [Board of Regents], and that he can only be removed for “incapacity, incompetence, dishonesty and/or conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude.”

The former Justice secretary insisted that the university president is elected by the regents, not appointed by the city mayor and that he “cannot be summarily removed by virtue of a hastily constituted board resolution.”

Tuquero also accused the respondents of violating his right to due process.

The regents, however, maintained that Tuquero’s appointment had to be recalled after the Civil Service Commission (CSC) invalidated his appointment for his failure to meet requirements, particularly a doctor’s degree.

When asked for reaction, lawyer Carlos Carlos, PLM’s board secretary, said the CSC’s qualification requirement does not apply because the university is operating on its own charter.

“Certainly, the CSC decision cannot prevail over a law that created PLM. Under the law, the university president is elected by the BOR and can only be removed for just cause and after due process,” Carlos added.

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