Malacanang on Friday said it respects the Ombudsman’s decision to dismiss Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Executive Director Julito Vitriolo after the latter was found guilty of grave misconduct and neglect of duty over a “diploma mill” operation.
“We recognize and respect the independence of the Ombudsman. It has a constitutional duty to fulfill,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement.
“We expect that Mr. Vitriolo and his legal representation would take the appropriate action to clear his name,” he added.
Andanar issued the statement after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales indicted Vitriolo for violation of Republic Act (RA) 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and Sections 3(a) and 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The charges filed against the CHED official were in connection with an agreement in 1996 between the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) and the National College of Physical Education (NCPE) to operate diploma programs using PLM’s facilities.
Morales said the Ombudsman’s investigation revealed that Vitriolo is guilty of grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, incompetence and inefficiency.
He was also found to have violated RA 6713 for failing to investigate and stop NCPE’s diploma programs, an operation that was later found to be irregular.
“He acted with gross negligence for failing to heed the demand to investigate and stop the diploma mill, and for allowing the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) to issue transcripts of records and diplomas based on a suspended education program,” the decision read.
In 2008, then-PLM President Adel Tamano suspended a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the PLM and the NCPE in light of a Commission on Audit report that said the agreement can badly affect the interests of the university.
Despite the suspension of the program, Vitriolo in 2010 maintained that transcripts of record could still be issued by the PLM under the MOA.
CHED chief Patricia Licuana also on Friday said they will comply with the dismissal order issued against Vitriolo.
Licuanan assured the public that the Ombudsman’s decision will not hamper the commission’s operations focusing on key tactical and transformative strategies for upgrading the accessibility and quality of Philippine higher education.
On Thursday, the Ombudsman furnished CHED with its joint resolution imposing the penalty of dismissal from the service (with the corresponding accessory penalties) on Vitriolo after finding him guilty for “failing to heed the demand to investigate and stop the diploma mill, and for allowing the PLM to issue transcripts of record and diplomas based on a suspended education program.”
The Ombudsman meted out the penalty of dismissal, noting that “this is not the first offense of the respondent that this Office [the Ombudsman]has penalized,” with reference to a previously imposed penalty of suspension for one month without pay for misconduct, after he signed a memorandum without having the authority to do so. CATHERINE S. VALENTE AND NEIL A. ALCOBER