THE Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal of Commission on Higher Education (Ched) Executive Director Julito Vitriolo after he was found guilty of grave misconduct and neglect of duty over a diploma mill operation.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales indicted Vitriolo for violation of Republic Act 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 is in connection with the 1996 agreement 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 that the Ombudsman's investigation revealed that Vitriolo is guilty of grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, incompetence and inefficiency; He also was 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 1996, the PLM and the National College of Physical Education (NCPE) entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for NCPE to use the facilities of PLM without compensation for a program to issue diplomas to graduates.

But in 2008, former PLM President Adel Tamano suspended the MOA following a Commission on Audit report that said that the agreement can badly affect the interests of the university. Despite the suspension of the program, Vitriolo in 2010 maintained that the transcript of records could still be issued by the PLM under the said MOA.

Morales also found Vitriolo liable for an ethical breach for his failure to reply to letter-requests for information on the MOA and for his failure to conduct an investigation on the alleged diploma mill within 15 days.

“By sheer inattention to communications addressed to him, the respondent showed not even the slightest care about requests from the public,” Morales said.

“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,” she added.

This is not the first time that the Ombudsman charged Vitriolo. In 1999, the Ombudsman ordered him suspended for one month without pay for signing a memorandum without the authority to do so.

The administrative charges against Vitriolo came days after his call for President Rodrigo Duterte to sack Ched Chairperson Patricia Licuanan after the latter was told to refrain from attending Cabinet meetings due to “irreconcilable differences.”

Licuanan in previous interviews said that problems in the commission are only being created by Vitriolo and that many employees in the Ched know Vitriolo's record in making trouble for the leadership in the Ched. (Sunnex)