Duterte says he fired Licuanan over frequent travels

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2018 07:20 PM | Updated as of Feb 06 2018 09:55 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he fired former Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) chairperson Patricia Licuanan over alleged frequent travels and the delays in the release of allowances of government scholars.

“[Si] Licuanan, every month lumalabas, eh kasi CHED raw kailangan ng edukasyon. Eh ‘wag mo akong bolahin,” Duterte said in his speech during the 45th anniversary celebration of the National Economic Development Authority.

Duterte also accused Licuanan of facilitating a system that caused delays in the release of allowance of scholars.

“Nung nakita ko ‘yung mga allowances ng mga scholars hindi pa nagbayad, eh kasi ginanun niya ‘yung pera eh. Nahulog --- na-devote doon sa different main line agencies. She gave an order na mapunta lahat sa --- eh ‘di six years spending,” he said.

“So sabi ko, ‘You are up to something because I know that you know and I know na walang resulta ‘yang ginagawa mong puro kalokohan.’”

Licuanan, an appointee of former President Benigno Aquino III, earlier rejected allegations of excessive travels.

She said she had 8 official travels last year, 5 of which were paid for by the government. She said she had 5 official travels in 2016, 6 in 2015, 2 in 2014 and 3 in 2013.

Amid allegations of excessive travels, Licuanan was asked to resign by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea ahead of the expiration of her term in July 2018.

"I have decided it is time to go. It has become obvious there are persons determined to get me out of CHEd by hurling false and baseless accusations against me in what appears to be a fishing expedition and a well orchestrated move in media," she had said.

The CHEd is currently led by its officer-in-charge, Commissioner Prospero De Vera.

Duterte earlier fired other officials over frequent trips abroad. Malacañang later issued a memorandum restricting foreign travels of officials in the executive branch. 

Meanwhile, Licuanan explained in December that logistical issues posed challenges to the timely release of the allowances.

She vowed to solve the problem by hiring additional manpower to process over 11,000 sets of documents and ensure that discrepancies in the required documents are detected early on.