Revenue Integrity Protection Service to cause forfeiture of ill-gotten wealth
The Department of Finance’s (DOF) Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS) scored yet another victory after the Office of the Ombudsman denied last 25 October 2014 a motion for reconsideration filed by a DOF employee found to be on the wrong side of anti-graft and corruption laws.
Jesse Javier Carlos, a tax specialist at the DOF’s One Stop Shop Tax Credit and Duty Drawback Center, was previously investigated by RIPS for violations of Section 7 of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and Section 8 of the Republic Act 6713 Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
In a decision dated 24 January 2013, the Office of the Ombudsman found that Carlos had unexplained wealth and had most likely falsified his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN), an official document, constituting perjury. The Ombudsman found probable cause to charge Carlos for violation of the provisions of Republic Act 1379, a law forfeiting in favor of the state ill-gotten wealth of public officials.
Carlos, whose last gross annual salary was P 210, 480, was found to have an incongruent amount of assets and properties. Over ten (10) years, a period in which he would have earned a total of P2.46 million in income, he has acquired a disproportionately high amount of assets totaling P9.36 million. Among some of his assets are a property in Manila worth P1.1 million and a farm lot worth P4 million which he bought in cash.
Carlos defended himself by claiming to have total liabilities of P7.54 million in explaining his wealth. The Ombudsman found the claim dubious, as he failed to present creditors or any supporting documents, especially given that he claims to have P5 million in loans. The Ombudsman declared then in 2013 that Carlos’ unexplained wealth can be forfeited in favor of the state under RA 1379.
Further clarifying where Carlos erred, the Ombudsman pointed to section 2 of RA 1379 stating that, “whenever a public officer or employee has acquired during his incumbency an amount of property which is manifestly out of proportion to his salary…said property shall be presumed prima facie to have been unlawfully acquired.”
In denying Carlos’ motion for reconsideration, the Ombudsman said, “a reasonable prudent mind would believe that respondent’s (Carlos’) non-declaration of assets and business interest appears to be intentional; meant to conceal his wealth.” The Ombudsman further stressed that Carlos has not reasonably explained and reconciled his assets and liabilities. Following the denial of Carlos’ motion for reconsideration, the government will work to forfeit the ill-gotten wealth under the process and parameters provided by RA 1379.
Launched in 2003, the DOF’s RIPS program systematically roots out corruption by investigating and eliminating erring and corrupt public officials and employees. As of 30 September 2014, RIPS has charged 226 public officers.
Since the Aquino administration took office in 2010, RIPS has filed 113 cases—a marked change of pace from when the same number (113 cases) was filed over the 2003-2010 period. The DOF, through RIPS and other championed initiatives, is committed to protecting the nation’s coffers by ensuring public officers are held to the highest standards of integrity and excellence.