Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chair Patricia Licuanan announced her resignation during the agency’s flag ceremony this Monday morning.
Licuanan told CHED employees that over the weekend, she received a phone call from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to resign, according to GMA News‘ Maki Pulido. Licuanan was first appointed in 2010 by then-President Benigno Aquino III, who subsequently reappointed her four years later. Her second and last term as CHED Chair was due to expire by July 2018.
Section 5 of Republic Act 7722 or the Higher Education Act of 1994 stipulates that the chair of CHED as well as its commissioners should have a fixed term of four years, with one reappointment.
Concurrent with being CHED Chair, Licuanan also heads the Board of Regents of all state universities and colleges around the country including the University of the Philippines, the Philippine Normal University, the West Visayas State University, and the Mindanao State University.
Licuanan’s resignation comes at a crucial time. The country is still in the transition period as regards the implementation of the K plus 12 basic education curriculum. And later this year, the first batch of senior high school graduates will be moving to college.
From the start, President Rodrigo Duterte and Licuanan has had a rocky relationship. Licuanan claims that Duterte assured her, shortly before he assumed the presidency, that he will allow her to finish the remainder of her term.
However, Licuanan together with Vice President Leni Robredo were barred from attending cabinet meetings starting December 2016. This prompted Robredo to resign from her position as Chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council. Nevertheless, Licuanan opted to stay in her post, saying that the agency can function effectively without having cabinet-status.
Duterte will have until July 2018 to name a replacement for Licuanan. The name of Dr. Jose David Lapuz, Duterte’s former professor at the Lyceum of the Philippines University who is now serving as presidential adviser on education and international organizations, has long been floated as a possible CHED Chair. However, his former students during his teaching stints in various universities have expressed their doubts about his competence.