2 CUSTOMS OFFICERS IN HOT SEAT OVER ADMINISTRATIVE & CRIMINAL RAPS

Posted in: Press Releases- May 02, 2013 No Comments

The Revenue Integrity Protection Service unit of the Department of Finance respectively filed two Joint-Complaint Affidavits on April 25, 2013 with the Office of the Ombudsman against JOSE CAJIGAL TABANDA, a Collector of Customs IV assigned at the BOC’s Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, and ROMALINO GABRIEL VALDEZ, a Collector of Customs V who is currently the Acting Deputy Collector for Administration at Clark International Airport.

 The separate investigations conducted by RIPS on Tabanda and Valdez have unearthed falsifications in the officials’ respective Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) over the past several years.  

 In the affidavit against Tabanda, RIPS accused the official of serious dishonesty for failing to make true and detailed declarations in his SALNs. The agency states that from the years 2000 to 2010, Tabanda only declared two real properties and even failed to indicate their acquisition costs. Apart from indicating the real property’s assessed value and current fair market value, Section 8(A) of Republic Act (RA) 6713 demands that the property’s acquisition cost be declared in the public official’s SALN.

 Likewise, RIPS asserts in its complaint that Tabanda failed to declare a residential property in Quezon City currently registered under the name of his spouse, Suzette C. Tabanda. The said property is described in the Tax Declarations and corresponding Transfer Certificate of Titles to be a two-story residential building measuring 400 square meters.

 Tabanda is also accused of leaving out his spouse’s business establishment in Mandaluyong City from his SALN.  A Certification from the Department of Trade and Industry and the Business Permits and Licensing Department of Mandaluyong City show that Suzette Tabanda is the owner of a certain TC Medical Laboratory.

 RIPS also underscores Tabanda’s failure to declare a Mazda Pick-Up vehicle which he acquired on September 12, 2000. The Motor Vehicle Inquiry Detail issued by the Land Transportation Office shows that the vehicle was last registered in his name on August 2, 2010. Thus, RIPS claims that the said vehicle should have appeared in Tabanda’s SALNs from 2000 to 2010.

 The RIPS’ affidavit further alleges that Tabanda lacks the necessary educational qualifications for his current position as Collector of Customs IV. A Masteral Degree is the minimum educational requirement for the said position.

 RIPS emphasizes that Tabanda falsified his Personal Data Sheet when he indicated therein that he earned a Bachelor of Laws from the University of the East (UE) – Manila in 1984 and passed the Bar Examinations in 1985. Likewise, supporting records show that he represented himself as ATTY. JOSE C. TABANDA, Deputy Collector for Assessment in BOC-PES Individual Commitment Record of a certain ratee, Jennifer David – Gabriel, from July to December 2007.  

 The complaint, however, states that Jose C. Tabanda only managed to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Far Eastern University when he graduated from the said institution on October 16, 1978.   Further, a Certification obtained by RIPS from the Office of the Bar Confidant of the Supreme Court categorically stated that “MR. JOSE CAJIGAL TABANDA is not a member of the Philippine Bar.”

 Hence, the agency avows that Jose C. Tabanda misrepresented his qualifications for Collector of Customs IV and is criminally liable under Article 315 paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code, along with the administrative liabilities for Serious Dishonesty and Grave Misconduct under pertinent Civil Service Rules.

 In the case of Valdez, the RIPS’ complaint charges the official of lumping declarations of his real properties in his SALNs. RIPS states that in Valdez’ SALNs from 2003 to 2011, there is a clear pattern of the consolidation of his real properties located in different places instead of declaring them individually or separately. The affidavit further affirms that Valdez owns a range of properties as far north of the country as Baguio and as far south as Davao.            

RIPS also indicts the official of lumping his private vehicles as well as that of his spouse, noting that relevant details such as the kind of vehicle, year of acquisition, and acquisition cost have been left out. Records obtained by the agency from the LTO show that Valdez owns a Mercedes Benz 100 van, a Mitsubishi L300 C-Chassis utility vehicle, a Vespa Scooter, a Toyota Camry 4-Door sedan, a Honda XRM 125 motorcycle, while his wife owns a Honda CRV wagon SUV, a Nissan Sentra 4-Door sedan, and a Toyota Dropside utility vehicle.

 Aside from the lumping of properties, Valdez is also alleged to have declared in his SALNs incomplete and misleading information regarding his properties and business interests. The affidavit states that a distinctive feature of Valdez’ SALNs is his failure to declare the actual acquisition costs of his real personal assets, as well as the amounts of his liabilities. RIPS insists that what Valdez did instead was to merely declare the total estimated values of all his properties and liabilities as a whole.

 RIPS further notes that while Valdez declared in his SALNs that he has real properties in Makati, Batangas, Bulacan, Laguna, Quezon City, Baguio, Davao City, Pasig City, Cavite, and Nueva Ecija, the respective offices of the Treasurer and Assessor of the said places have certified that Valdez and his family have no real property declared for taxation purposes in the said respective jurisdictions.

 Likewise, the agency maintains that although Valdez declared business interests in his SALNs, he did not indicate when such were established, as well as to whom these businesses were attributed to. RIPS also notes Valdez declared a business interest in his SALN – a certain Hermaida Corporation which was discovered to be non-operational since 2004 based on records from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

             Valdez is also accused of failing to disclose in his SALNs his ownership of several firearms as borne from the Certification issued by the Firearms and Explosives Office of the Philippine National Police.

 Lastly, the agency charges Valdez of accumulating unexplained wealth. Valdez’ SALNs from 2003 to 2011 show his net worth to be grossly disproportionate to his government salary even taking into account whatever income he receives from his declared businesses. For instance, in 2004, Valdez’ net worth increased from one hundred ninety four million nine hundred sixty thousand pesos (Php 194,960,000.00) to one hundred ninety nine million nine hundred seventy thousand pesos (Php 199,970,000.00) in 2005 — or more than  five million peso (Php 5,000,000.00) – increase in his net worth for the said years, notwithstanding that his annual gross salary ranged only from one hundred seventy nine thousand three hundred twenty eight pesos (Php 179,328.00) to one hundred eighty three thousand eight hundred four pesos (Php 183,804.00) based on his Service Record. By any stretch of imagination, such astronomical increase in Valdez’ net worth is inconceivable considering that he was only a Legal Officer II at that time.          

 On the behest of the Office of the Ombudsman, both Tabanda and Valdez may face preventive suspensions pending a preliminary investigation by the said office pursuant to RA 6770. □□□□□

 The RIPS is an anti-graft unit in the DOF created pursuant to Executive Order No. 259, s. 2003, tasked to detect, investigate, and prevent corrupt practices committed by erring revenue officials and employees under the jurisdiction of the Department of Finance, including the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

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