/ 15 June 2021

COMMISSION on Higher Education Chairman Prospero de Vera III belied the accusation that he is withholding educational funds as a leverage not to recognize the appointment of Dr. Urduja Tejada as Cagayan State University president.

De Vera said that the CSU Board of Regents disregarded the commission’s Memorandum Order No. 16 s. 2009 in reappointing Tejada.

“The selection and appointment of all SUC Presidents are governed by CHED Memorandum Order No. 16 s. 2009.  This CMO is being used by all SUCs even before I was appointed to CHED. As a matter of fact, Tejada’s appointment for her first term as CSU President strictly complied with the provision of CMO No. 16 s. 2009,” he said.

In a letter published by The Manila Times on June 8, De Vera was accused of withholding the funds from the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.

The CHED chief was also accused of violating RA 8292, or the “Higher Education Modernization Act,” for assigning an officer-in-charge for CSU after the BOR appointed Tejada.

De Vera argued that all members of Congress, including House Committee on Higher and Technical Education Chairman Mark Go, who sit in the Board of all SUCs nationwide, used the CMO in selecting SUC Presidents or reappointing them.

“In the case of CSU, Cagayan 3rd District Rep. Joseph L. Lara (who is merely representing Chairman Go in the CSU BOR) refuses to adopt CMO No. 16 s. 2009 in the reappointment of Tejada,” he said.

“Clearly, the CSU BOR violated the existing CHED rules in the reappointment of Tejada to a second term. The fact that majority of the board voted for her reappointment is immaterial,” he added.

He claimed that Tejada has no appointment paper signed by the appointing authority under RA 8292 and duly attested by the Civil Service Commission as required by the 2017 Omnibus Rules on Appointments and Other Human Resource Actions.

“She is the only SUC President, if not the only appointed official, who has no appointment paper. The recognition by the CSU BOR of her reappointment via a Resolution cannot excuse Tejada’s compliance with the mandatory requirement of an appointment paper,” De Vera said.

He added that the Solicitor General filed a Quo Warranto petition before the Regional Trial Court of Manila questioning Tejada’s reappointment.

On the release of funds, De Vera said that UniFast Executive Director wrote to the CSU BOR asking them if the funds can be moved through the CHED Regional Office so it can be used by CSU for its operations.

“In response, the CSU BOR insisted that the funds be given to Tejada. The UniFAST Board (and CHED) cannot give funds to a private person and doing so will open the members of the Board (and Commission) to criminal and administrative cases. The Board (and CHED) cannot authorize the transfer of these funds to Tejada until the Quo Warranto case is finally resolved by the court,” he said.

Tejada argued that De Vera’s statements “invoked the sub judice rule” for her supposed appointment as CSU president “by reciting his allegations.”

“The CHED does not govern the Board of Regents. The Board is a creation of law. There is nothing in RA 8292 that provides that the CHED Chair is the appointing power of the University President,” she said.

Since students already received the Tertiary Education Subsidy, Tejada also questioned De Vera why he cannot release the other components of RA 10931 such as tuition and miscellaneous fees.

“The pretext that UNIFAST Funds cannot be given to a private person is lame. They are always deposited to the account of the university,” she said.