CHED to set penalties for erring commissioners amid corruption allegations

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 2) — The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will issue a memorandum that will set penalties for officials who will be found guilty of corruption practices.

CHED chairman Prospero De Vera made the commitment on Monday during a Senate sub-committee hearing on the agency’s proposed 2024 budget, where he was grilled about allegations that two commissioners had misappropriated public funds.

“Ilalagay ko po sa memorandum na 'pag hindi sila sumunod ay tatanggalin ko po silang chair designate,” De Vera said.

[Translation: I will put it in the memorandum that if they do not comply, I will remove them as chair designates.]

He said the memorandum will detail specific do’s and don’ts for commissioners when it comes to public spending.

Senator Risa Hontiveros cited reports of a complaint against CHED commissioners Aldrin Darilag and Jo Mark Libre for grave misconduct, abuse of authority, bias, and neglect.

The complaint is now before the Office of the President, who oversees CHED.

Darilag is charged with using funds for his family's travel expenditures from the State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) under him, while Libre allegedly ordered the SUCs he is in charge of to cover all of his travel costs, including lodging and a daily allowance.

Additionally, the two reportedly held board meetings in extravagant venues.

While the allegations may be shocking, Senator Joel Villanueva stressed that the commissioners still deserve to be given due process.

Darilag and Libre were present in the hearing but denied the allegations, saying the complaint is an organized attack on them.

“My 24 SUC presidents can attest to my practice of holding board meetings and also my integrity as a commissioner,” Darilag said.

“All of the board meetings are actually conducted in SUCs conference rooms, we can furnish you the copy of that,” Libre said.

De Vera initially said he forwarded the complaint to Malacañang as he did not have the power to discipline the commissioners who are presidential appointees.

The senators challenged de Vera, nevertheless, on what internal controls he could put in place to stop the misappropriation of public funds.

The sub-committee approved the proposed budget of CHED at P29 billion and SUCs at P100 billion.