Ex-Ombudsman officials to face criminal raps

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Monday, February 3, 2014

CRIMINAL charges will be filed before the Sandiganbayan on Tuesday against two former ranking officials of the Office of the Ombudsman for tampering with official documents.

They are former Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Mark Jalandoni and former Assistant Ombudsman Nennette de Padua, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said Monday after approving the recommendation of the Internal Affairs Board (IAB) to junk the respondents’ motions for reconsideration to the July 25, 2013 resolution.

Jalandoni and de Padua will be charged with 13 counts of falsification of public documents under Article 171, paragraph 6 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), and 56 counts of infidelity in the custody of public documents through concealment under Article 226 of the RPC.

Morales, however, granted on January 22 the motion for reconsideration filed by former executive assistant Rosalyn Martinez who, after agreeing to become a prosecution witness, was given conditional immunity under Section 17 of Republic Act 6770 (The Ombudsman Act of 1989).

The Ombudsman said Jalandoni and de Padua tinkered with resolutions and orders, wherein the signature portion was superimposed with a patch of paper with Jalandoni as the approving authority.

The tampering resulted in the delay in the release of already-approved documents in 56 cases, and in at least 13 cases, the “patches” were signed by Jalandoni. However, the documents were already signed by various officials including then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

The irregularity was discovered by then Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro after he ordered an inventory of pending cases following Gutierrez’s resignation over alleged ineptitude on April 29, 2011.

Since the resolution came out way after Jalandoni resigned in April 2011, he was ordered to pay a fine equivalent to his one-year salary as substitute to the penalty of dismissal from service.

But the accessory penalties remain including forfeiture retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and prohibition from taking civil service examinations for being guilty of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

Jalandoni questioned the administrative sanctions before the Court of Appeals (CA), which has yet to resolve the case.

The administrative complaint against de Padua and Martinez was dismissed for lack of administrative disciplinary jurisdiction, the two co-terminus officials having separated from service in good faith prior to the filing of the complaint.

Associate graft investigation officer Amie Lou Fernandez and administrative aide Ruby Ann Medallada were suspended for one month and one day while the administrative case against graft prevention and control officer Grace Anne Arnan was shelved for lack of substantial evidence.

“The Office shall continue to run after and prosecute all – even our own people – found to be involved in shenanigans that compromise the integrity of public service. We shall continue cleaning our own backyard,” said Morales. (Sunnex)

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