Criminal Charges Filed Against CHED Chairman for Favoring Unqualified Supplier

CHEd Chairman Prospero "Popy" De Vera
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Allegations of Graft and Corruption Rock Commission on Higher Education (CHED)

In a shocking turn of events, a suspended official of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has filed graft and corruption and grave abuse of authority charges against the agency’s chairman, Prospero De Vera III, before the Office of the Ombudsman. Aldrin Darilag, a commissioner of CHED, accused De Vera of giving undue favor to a supplier and claimed that his superior had asked him to support the supplier despite its lack of qualifications.

Darilag’s sworn statement, included in a five-page complaint filed on Tuesday, stated, “Respondent De Vera would like me to support Aspen as a supplier of CHED even though it did not comply with the requirements stipulated in Republic Act 9184, otherwise known as the procurement law. He even asked me to have a meeting with Aspen representatives, which I refused to do.”

The allegations have caused a ripple effect within CHED, leading to a series of actions against Darilag. On January 16, 2024, the Office of the President placed Darilag under preventive suspension for 90 days, citing alleged grave misconduct, neglect in the performance of his duties, and abuse of authority and oppression. However, Darilag claimed that he was not provided with a copy of the complaints or issued a show cause order, violating his right to due process.

Seeking justice, Darilag filed a motion to remand the cases against him to the Ombudsman on February 5, 2024. Unfortunately, he has yet to receive a resolution on his motion or be given a copy of the complaints or a show cause order. As a result of the ongoing investigation, Darilag has been barred from entering the CHED premises and interacting with officials and employees of the commission. He has also been denied access to his personal belongings, including his laptop.

Hostility and Alleged Abuse of Authority

Darilag believes that the actions taken against him are a direct result of Chairman De Vera’s hostility. In his statement, Darilag asserted, “All this was the result of the directive of respondent CHED Chairman Prospero De Vera III, who has been hostile to me throughout my stint as commissioner of CHED.” He further claimed that De Vera’s hostility stemmed from his opposition to the chairman’s decisions, including supporting an unqualified CHED contractor and disagreeing with the denial of Biliran Province State University’s maritime program for valid reasons.

Additionally, Darilag mentioned that De Vera suspected him of disclosing his alleged wrongdoing to Samar Representative Raul Daza during budget hearings in Congress. However, in an earlier press statement, De Vera countered the allegations, stating that the order to suspend and investigate Darilag came from Malacañang following complaints against him. He emphasized that the preventive suspension was necessary to ensure a fair investigation and prevent any potential influence on the proceedings.

As a precautionary measure, De Vera reassigned the 30 state universities and colleges where Darilag held the position of chairman-designate of the board of regents to other commissioners. This step was taken to ensure the continuity of higher education programs and projects amidst the ongoing investigation.

Conclusion

The allegations of graft and corruption, along with the grave abuse of authority charges, have sent shockwaves through the Commission on Higher Education. The accusations against Chairman Prospero De Vera III by Commissioner Aldrin Darilag highlight the importance of upholding transparency, fairness, and due process within government agencies.

As the Office of the Ombudsman investigates the claims, it is crucial to allow the legal process to unfold and reach a just resolution. The international community will be watching closely to see how this case is handled, as it serves as a reminder of the importance of integrity in public service.

Source: The Manila Times

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