DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE “RIPS” UP CORRUPTION ANEW

Posted in: Press Releases- Oct 22, 2017 No Comments

The Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS), the anti-corruption unit of the Department of Finance (DOF), has been able to obtain orders imposing administrative sanctions against twenty (20) erring employees and officials of the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and Bureau of Customs (BOC).

From January to September 2017, decisions were promulgated by the Ombudsman and CSC finding the employees and officials guilty of Grave Misconduct and Serious Dishonesty and finding anomalies regarding the accomplishment and filing of their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) reports.

In the Administrative Cases filed by RIPS, the penalty of dismissal from the service was imposed on two (2) BIR employees and three (3) BOC employees which carried penalties of forfeiture of benefits, perpetual disqualification to hold public office and a bar to taking the Civil Service Examinations.

Judith G. Pacana, Chief Revenue Officer IV of BIR Iligan City was found to have failed to declare in her SALN a parcel of land donated by her sister located in Misamis Oriental; an ancestral house located in Cagayan De Oro City; a land in Molugan, El Salvador City; a land located in Cagayan De Oro City; and a housing loan. She also failed to secure a travel authority for her trip to Hongkong and Singapore.

Consequently, the Ombudsman found Pacana guilty of Serious Dishonesty and Grave Misconduct, in its Decision dated 06 June 2017, holding that “[Pacana’s] failure to disclose significant number of her assets and liability, in several SALNs, which is required under Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6713, shows a clear intent to violate the law, and is a flagrant disregard of established rule which constitute Grave Misconduct. More so, such act being repeatedly done, the same also amounts to Serious Dishonesty.”

Likewise, in the case involving Ester Grafil Sese, an Administrative Aide at the BOC who was only earning P 78,264.00 gross salary in the year 2012, the Ombudsman found that she failed to declare various motor vehicles in her 2000 to 2010 SALNs; falsely declared the acquisition cost of her assets; failed to declare various firearms in her 2012 to 2013 SALNs; and failed to declare a townhouse in her 2002 SALN.

The Ombudsman in its Decision dated 26 October 2016 ordered Sese’s dismissal from the service for Serious Dishonesty and Grave Misconduct.

In another case, Visitacion B. Difuntorum, Customs Operations Officer V of the BOC, was found to have failed to declare in her SALNs various lands located in Quezon City and Catarman, Samar from 1995 to 2006.

The Ombudsman in its decision dated 19 May 2017, found her guilty of Dishonesty for “[Difuntorum] made us believe that the only properties are those listed in her SALNs when in truth and fact, as proved by the extant records, there are several properties registered under her and her husband’s name still undisclosed. Worst of all, she made the declarations under oath. This is dishonesty.” Considering Difuntorum’s retirement from the service last 30 January 2012, she was directed instead to pay a fine equivalent to one (1) year of her latest salary, payable to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Also, a BOC Special Agent, Ramir Saunders Gomez, was found to have failed to declare six (6) real properties discovered by RIPS located in Old Cabalan, Olongapo City in his SALN although all the Transfer Certificates of Title (TCTs) for the same are registered in his name.

In its 13-page Decision dated 23 June 2017, the Ombudsman ordered Gomez’s dismissal from the service for Serious Dishonesty and Grave Misconduct and said “[Gomez] deliberately did not disclose his ownership over the real properties from 1996 to 2013 – a clear proof of willful and deliberate assertion of a falsehood.” Verily in the same case, “[T]he failure to file a truthful SALN puts in doubt the integrity of the officer and would normally amount to dishonesty” said the Ombudsman.

In the CSC, the RIPS won the case against Ma. Herminia A. Pabito, Revenue Officer IV of the BIR, who was found to have failed to declare in her 2009 to 2011 SALNs a property registered in Pabito’s name and her sister; and failed to secure travel authorities for her travels in Bangkok, Thailand, Shanghai, China and Hongkong. She was dismissed on 02 May 2017 for Serious Dishonesty and five (5) counts of violation of Office Rules and Regulations. The CSC noted that “Regardless of the terms and conditions agreed upon by [Pabito] and her sister on the aforesaid real property, [Pabito] has the obligation to declare the same in her SALN from the time of acquisition of the said property. This is in accordance with Section S of Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).”

In addition to the Orders dismissing the five (5) government employees, the RIPS cases also resulted in Orders of Suspension that ranged from one month to one year imposed on nine (9) BOC employees, two (2) BIR employees, and one (1) City Treasurer for non-declaration of realties in SALNs for one (1) to six (6) years; failure to submit a SALN for one (1) to two (2) years; non-declaration of business interests in 2005 to 2012 SALNs; failure to secure travel authorities abroad; belated filing of SALN; error in judgment and misinterpretation in accomplishing the SALN; and a finding of absence of bad faith in mis-declaring the acquisition cost or details of certain assets in the SALN.

Interestingly for failure to secure the necessary authority to travel abroad to Singapore, a Supervising Tax Specialist of the BOC was found guilty of Simple Dishonesty aggravated by committing it twice: from January 1993 to February 1993 and September 1995 to October 1995 and was ordered to be suspended for three (3) months without pay. A City Treasurer likewise suffered the same fate.

Some of the above government employees are going to be charged with criminal cases. The Ombudsman found that eight (8) BOC employees and one (1) BIR employee committed Perjury and Falsification by Public Officer under the Revised Penal Code; and for their SALN violations, Section 7 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Section 8, in relation to Section 11, of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees which may be punished by imprisonment not exceeding five (5) years, or a fine not exceeding five thousand pesos (P5,000), or both, and, in the discretion of the court of competent jurisdiction, disqualification to hold public office.

To catch other corrupt government officials and employees of the DOF and its attached agencies (Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Treasury, Bureau of Local Government Finance, Insurance Commission, National Tax Research Center, Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation, Philippine Export-Import Credit Agency, Privatization and Management Office, and the Securities and Exchange Commission), RIPS is encouraging the public to immediately report any suspicious activities and transactions in the said offices through the website – www.rips.gov.ph.

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