THE Department of Finance, through its Revenue Integrity Protection Service, plans to conduct lifestyle checks on at least 70 more employees in the main office and its attached agencies, such as the Bureau of Customs and Bureau of Internal Revenue, before the end of the year in line with the Duterte administration’s goal of weeding out corruption in the government.
Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin, who oversees the RIPS, said the investigation will cover officials and employees who have acquired real estate and personal properties with amounts not commensurate to their annual salaries. “For instance, there is one that we are investigating―in 1996 his annual salary was P80,000, he was able to buy a lot worth P40,000. Then in 1997, he [reported that his] annual salary was P126,000, but he was able to buy a lot for P150,000. His annual salary is not even enough to pay for that lot,” Agabin said.
RIPS executive director Ray Gilberto Espinosa said his office added at least 10 more personnel covered by lifestyle checks every month.
“So we started actively initiating investigations last January, and we are targeting around 70 plus by the end of the year,” Espinosa said.
The RIPS, which is the anti-corruption arm of the department, forwards cases for further investigation and resolution to either the Office of the Ombudsman or the Civil Service Commission.
From January to September 2017, decisions were promulgated by the Ombudsman and CSC finding several employees and officials of Customs and the BIR guilty of Grave Misconduct and Serious Dishonesty and finding anomalies regarding the accomplishment and filing of their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth reports, the RIPS said in a recent statement.
In the administrative cases filed by RIPS, the penalty of dismissal from the service was imposed on two BIR employees and three BOC employees that carried penalties of forfeiture of benefits, perpetual disqualification to hold public office and a bar to taking the Civil Service Examinations.
Judith Pacana, chief revenue officer IV of the BIR Iligan City, was guilty of Serious Dishonesty and Grave Misconduct by the Ombudsman in its Decision dated 06 June 2017, holding that “[Pacana’s] failure to disclose a significant number of her assets and liability in several SALNs.”
In the case involving Ester Grafil Sese, an Administrative Aide at Customs who was only earning P78,264.00 in gross salary in 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 Oct. 26, 2016 ordered Sese’s dismissal from the service for Serious Dishonesty and Grave Misconduct.
In another case, Visitacion Difuntorum, Customs Operations Officer V of Customs, was found guilty of Dishonesty for failing to declare in her SALNs various lands located in Quezon City and Catarman, Samar, from 1995 to 2006.
Also, a Customs Special Agent, Ramir Saunders Gomez, was ordered dismissed from the service by the Ombudsman for Serious Dishonesty and Grave Misconduct for failing to declare six real properties discovered by RIPS in Old Cabalan, Olongapo City, in his SALN.
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 piece of property registered in Pabito’s name and her sister; and failed to secure travel authorities for her travels in Bangkok, Thailand, Shanghai, China and Hong Kong.
For failure to secure the necessary authority to travel abroad to Singapore, a Supervising Tax Specialist of Customs was found guilty of Simple Dishonesty aggravated by committing it twice.
Some of the above government employees are going to be charged with criminal cases.
The Ombudsman found that eight Customs employees and one BIR employee committed Perjury and Falsification by a Public Officer under the Revised Penal Code and for their SALN violations.