TWO commissioners of the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) denied allegations against them over the “misuse” of public funds for the performance of their duties.
During the Senate Committee on Finance’s hearing on the proposed 2024 budget of Ched, commissioners Aldrin Darilag and Jo Mark Libre said they can provide proof to show that the allegations against them are not true.
Ched chairperson Prospero de Vera III confirmed there were several complaints against Darilag and Libre, adding that he forwarded these to the Office of the Executive Secretary, noting that it was the Office of the President that has disciplinary authority against the Ched commissioners since they were presidential appointees.
Libre was accused of conducting excessive and extravagant board meetings, most of the time in hotels and other “impractical venues,” and tagging along too many resource persons, in which funding is being shouldered by the State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).
“All of the letters appears to be part of the organized attack on the integrity of yours truly. Second, regarding, with the conduct of the board meetings, those are actually with official travel and in fact, that’s actually the request of the respective SUC presidents,” he said.
Libre said out of the 24 SUCs under him, he conducts meetings with about half of them each month mostly to discuss procurement matters.
He said they are holding the board meetings in the conference room of the concerned SUC and not in hotels or any other venues.
Darilag, on the other hand, was accused of using public funds for his family’s trip abroad, especially that one instance when he made his wife, who is not a Ched official, represent the agency in an official business in Canada.
“That’s not true. Meron akong ebidensiya that would show na ako bumili ng ticket… My 24 SUC presidents can attest to my practice of holding board meetings and also my integrity as a commissioner,” he said.
Several senators, such as Joel Villanueva and Pia Cayetano, the former Senate Committee on Education chair, expressed dismay over the allegations.
"I’m shocked by these allegations. I’m like really 'laglag-sa-upuan-ko' shocked kasi I remember when I was chairman of the Committee on Education, I was very specific with my representatives na lahat ng honoraria na matatanggap, kailangan ire-report sa akin kasi ayoko na may tinatanggap sila na hindi ko alam na labas doon sa alam kong puwede nilang tanggapin,” Cayetano said.
(I'm shocked by these allegations. I'm like really thrown off my chair, because I remember when I was chairman of the Committee on Education, I was very specific with my representatives that all the honoraria that will be received must be reported to me because I don't want them to accept something that is outside of what they are allowed to accept.)
“I want to put on record that the reason I bring this up is because we cannot tolerate this,” she added.
While he does not have disciplinary powers against his commissioners, De Vera said he will issue a memorandum on Monday, October 9, reminding them how to conduct themselves as chair designate of SUC. (SunStar Philippines)