DOF-RIPS GETS OMB NOD ON FORFEITURE OF UNEXPLAINED WEALTH, RETIREMENT BENEFITS OF DECEASED CUSTOMS OFFICIAL

Posted in: Press Releases- Mar 20, 2014 No Comments

Carag: The best inheritance is not wealth but integrity

Dual breakthroughs in an eight-year old complaint against PRUDENCIO LOPEZ MACARANAS, Customs Operations Officer V of the Bureau of Customs (BOC), vindicate anew the Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS) in its relentless fight against corruption.
The Office of the Ombudsman issued its Resolution dated 20 June 2013 which directed the filing of a Petition for Forfeiture under Section 2, RA 1379 against Macaranas with the Regional Trial Court of Parañaque City.
Official had excessive wealth of P22.8m despite only P1.7m salary
Based on Macaranas’s Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs) and other supporting records adduced by RIPS, the Office of the Ombudsman figured that since his entry to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) on June 11, 1976 until December 2004, Macaranas had “excess acquisitions amounting to P22,871,920.59”, the bulk of which pertained to an extravagant collection of real estate, motor vehicles, jewelries, among other properties. Incidentally, it did not escape the scrutiny of the Office of the Ombudsman that out of Macaranas’s net worth of P26,101,352.00 during the said period, RIPS evidence showed that Macaranas’s undeclared assets amounted to a total of P4,396,352.00.
Macaranas’s Service Record indicated that from 1974 to 2004, he only earned P1,680,164.98 as a BOC official. Conversely, tax records of the spouses Macaranas confirmed that their income from other lawful sources was barely P881,943.00, while earnings from their purported family business, Steadfast Air-Sea International, Inc., were summed at Php 667,323.43, as culled from its financial records for taxable years 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1996 to 2004.
“The Ombudsman’s Resolution directing the filing of the forfeiture case on Macaranas’s unexplained wealth sends an unequivocal message to all government officials: the consequences of corruption transcend generations. The best inheritance is not wealth but integrity,” Undersecretary Carlo Carag, head of the DOF Revenue Operations and Legal Affairs Group, said.
Wealth out of proportion to salary
In upholding RIPS’s allegations of unexplained wealth against Macaranas, the Office of the Ombudsman found that “there is a prima facie showing that respondent acquired during his incumbency an amount of property and money manifestly out of proportion to his salary and his other lawful income and his wife’s lawful income,” which “is a sufficient cause for his removal or dismissal had he not died,” citing Sections 8 and 11 of RA 3019. Macaranas died on January 10, 2007 as shown in his death certificate.
In addition, the Office of the Ombudsman, in its Joint Resolution of even date, found substantial evidence against Macaranas for violation of RA 6713, Dishonesty and Grave Misconduct, after it was established by RIPS that his significant interests in Steadfast, his brokerage firm, as Vice-President and stockholder, more likely caused conflict of interest with his functions and responsibilities as Customs Operations Officer V.

Macaranas declared false net worth in SALNs
Apart from laboring under a conflict of interest as prohibited by law, the Office of the Ombudsman resolved, among other findings, that Macaranas “willfully and unlawfully made false declarations of his assets and true net worth in his SALNs, as required by law; and he unlawfully acquired assets as much as tenfold more than his salary and other lawful income and his wife’s lawful income.”
Although Macaranas’s administrative liabilities for Grave Misconduct and Dishonesty warranted his dismissal from service under Civil Service rules and regulations, only the accessory penalty of forfeiture of retirement benefits was imposed upon him in view of his demise during the pendency of the investigation commenced against him.
The twin Resolutions of the Office of the Ombudsman were an offshoot of the complaint filed by RIPS against Macaranas on September 19, 2005.
RIPS is the anti-corruption arm of the Department of Finance (DOF), created pursuant to Executive Order No. 259, s. 2003, to detect, investigate, and prevent graft and corrupt practices committed by errant revenue officials and employees under the jurisdiction of the DOF, including the Bureau of Customs (BOC). The DOF encourages the public to help DOF in its campaign by reporting corrupt practices and extravagant lifestyles of BOC, BIR, Treasurers and DOF employees and officials to www.perangbayan.com.

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