3 Ched execs face graft charges

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Thursday, June 19, 2014


THE school’s ownership row between the Aznar clan has caught the three Commission on Higher Education (Ched) officials in Central Visayas in the crossfire.

Dr. Noe Quiñanola, president of Southwestern University (SWU) Inc., filed criminal and administrative charges against the three Ched officials before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas yesterday morning.

The complaint, which was filed through school lawyer Inocencio dela Cerna Jr., accused the commission officials of violating the anti-graft law, code of conduct and ethical standards of public officials, grave coercion and unjust vexation.

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(Sun.Star Cebu is withholding the names of the Ched officials pending their comments on the case.)

Jonah Lafuente, SWU Inc. vice president for administration, and Maris Aznar Holopainen, SWU’s chairman of the board of directors, also accompanied dela Cerna and his associate, Ryan Gabuya, in filing the complaint.

In the complaint, lawyer dela Cerna said the Ched officials “underhandedly rooted and campaigned for and in favor of” the Matias H. Aznar II Memorial (MHAM) College of Medicine and against the SWU Inc.

The respondents allegedly displayed “partiality and evident bad faith” during a public forum organized by MHAM and attended by medical students of the SWU College of Medicine on May 5, 2014.

“In knowingly and willfully doing so, authorities had prematurely decided the issues despite the absence and non-observance of any procedural due process,” the complaint read.

Dela Cerna said the Ched officials should have remained neutral by conducting an investigation of claims by both parties.

What the Ched officials did, dela Cerna said, gave “unwarranted advantage, benefit and preference” to MHAM.

One of the Ched 7 officials named of the complaint also allegedly misbehaved as a public officer when he publicly branded the SWU Inc. administration as “ignorant and disrespectful” in his letter addressed SWU chair Holopainen.

“Such demeanor is a failure of circumspection demanded of every public official and employee,” the complaint read.

Dela Cerna asked the anti-graft office to place the three Ched 7 officials under preventive suspension pending investigation to “thwart any undue influence and misrepresentation that they may be able to exert and impress” relative to the issue between the SWU Inc. and MHAM.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 20, 2014.

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