FORMER UST professor Jose David Lapuz dismissed reports he would soon be appointed chairman of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), replacing Patricia Licuanan who recently quit.
Lapuz was tapped by President Rodrigo Duterte to replace Licuanan in 2016. The appointment immediately drew the ire of Lapuz’s former students, who accused him of “incompetence” as a professor in the Faculty of Arts and Letters (Artlets) where he taught Rizal, political science and other courses from 1970 to 2007.
“Whoever is chosen [as the next CHEd chief], I will not ascribe ill intentions just because I was not the one chosen. I have the highest respect for President Rodrigo Duterte. He may appoint me or he may not appoint me, which is really his absolute decision,” Lapuz told the Varsitarian in a phone interview.
He added that the next CHEd chief should focus on funding scholarships for students.
“Money is awash in CHEd,” he said. “Hindi natin pwede i-dahilan na kasi walang tutulong [na pondohan ang scholarships]. Kung walang tutulong, then employ more accountants and bookkeepers.”
Licuanan stepped down on January 15 after receiving a call from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea asking her to resign.
Lapuz pointed out that he was “misrepresented” after being tapped as the next CHEd chief by Duterte in 2016.
“What hurt me when I was being presented as a candidate was kung ano-ano ang nilalabas nila. Why cannot they assume some virtue, some good qualities?” Lapuz said.
Former students Chris Cahilig and Philip Landagan were two of Lapuz’s many critics who took to social media to say the “Rizalista de Vanguardia” was unqualified to hold the top CHEd post.
Lapuz was also accused of committing plagiarism in his book Perspectives in Politics: Public and Foreign, which was published in 2005.
Lapuz was chairman of Lyceum of the Philippines’ Department of Political Science from 1967 to 1973. He obtained his political science degree from the University of the Philippines in Diliman. One of his students at the Lyceum was the future president, Rodrigo Duterte.
In 2017, Lapuz was appointed commissioner of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization-Philippines. Previously, he was President Duterte’s adviser for education and international organizations.
Licuanan was set to finish her term in July but resigned following accusations of corruption and mismanagement such as the delayed funding of scholarships for displaced faculty affected by the K to 12 transition. She has dismissed all the allegations.
“It is time to resign as my continued presence in CHEd is inimical to the interest of the institution. It is particularly important for CHEd to focus on its work especially when it prepares for the implementation of the Republic Act 10931 or Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act,” Licuanan said in a statement last Jan. 15.
Commissioner Prospero de Vera was named CHEd officer in charge.
Ada Abad, legal counsel of Philippine Colleges and Universities, called on the Duterte administration to appoint a CHEd chief who would continue faculty scholarships to improve graduates’ job opportunities abroad.
“Hopefully, the new [CHEd] chairperson will continue the scholarships for master’s or doctorate degrees for teachers affected by the K to 12 transition […] and must continue aligning Philippine courses with that of other international frameworks, to enable our graduates to work abroad,” Abad said in an e-mail to the Varsitarian.
Licuanan was appointed by President Benigno Aquino III as CHEd chief in 2010 and in 2014.
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