Ched chair defends trips in 2017

COMMISSION on Higher Education (Ched) Chair Patricia Licuanan has belied the accusations of a lawmaker that she did not obtain authorization from the Office of the President in all her travels in 2017.

In a statement, Licuanan said "I get a travel authority from the Office of the President for all my travel including personal trips."

"This is well documented. I issue travel authorities for all Ched officials but not for myself."

Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Partylist Representative Jericho Nograles has accused the Ched chair of approving her own travel requests, eight times in 2017, in violation of the Executive Order 456 series of 2005, which mandates all cabinet officials to secure their travel authority from the Office of the President.

"It appears that what Rep. Nograles shared on his Facebook account as the basis for his accusations is the Internal Authority to Travel Abroad, which is routinely used to process the funds and is an attachment for securing Malacañang approval," Licuanan said.

Ched International Affairs Staff Director lawyer Lily Frieda Milla said all the official trips of Licuanan are covered by appropriate travel authorities from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and were signed by Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

According to Nograles, at least P893,102 in government funds was spent in all the travels of Licuanan. The lawmaker has also accused the Ched chair of traveling business class.

Milla, however, said that Licuanan had been allowed to travel such due to her vertigo.

"The Chairperson is allowed to travel business class for long-haul flights as warranted under OP Memorandum Circular No. 7 series of 2010 and because of her vertigo," Milla said.

As evidence against Nograles' claims, the Ched has released copies of eight official Malacañang travel authority documents Nograles accused Licuanan of not having.

Nograles has yet to respond to Licuanan's denial to his accusations.

K to 12

On Saturday, Nograles has made another allegation that the Ched, under the leadership of Licuanan has also failed to pay the living allowances of the K to 12 transition scholars since 2016.

Thousands of professors teaching in both public and private universities were given Ched scholarships to improve the quality of education in schools, in compliance with the requirement of the K to 12 Law.

"Many of these scholars were sent abroad or in metro manila universities so their day to day expenses are really high. Delayed stipends since 1986 are really hitting them bad. Some have discontinued their studies because of the delayed stipends," Nograles said.

"The funds for our transition scholars have been allotted to Ched. Where did the money go? Napunta ba sa paglalamyerda ni Chair Licuanan?" Nograles added.

Apart from not releasing the living allowances of the Ched scholars, Nograles said Licuanan has also withheld the release of the funds needed to pay their tuition fees.

Nograles has urged the Congress to probe the said issues hounding the commission. (SunStar Philippines)


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