BAUKO, Mountain Province – A local court found a former provincial boardmember guilty for allegedly failing to submit his sworn Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) when he was still a public official.
In an 8-page decision, Judge Jocelyn Humiwat of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) for Bauko-Sabangan found former boardmember Romeo M. Pagedped guilty for violation of the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, particularly by failing to submit his SALN for the year 2006, and ordered him fined for only P3,000.
The decision stated that there was no dispute that Pageped was a public official in 2006 and it was admitted at the pre-trial conference of the case that he was an elected municipal councillor of Bauko in the same year and being a public official in the said year, he had the obligation to accomplish and submit his SALN on or before April 30, 2007 pursuant to RA 6713.
The court added that it was likewise established that his 2006 SALN was not filed on or before April 30, 2007 but Pageped maintained that he filed his SALN for 2006 through the municipal council liaison officer Jimmy Bantic on or before August 2007.
For his part, Bantic claimed that he filed Pagdeped’s 2006 SALN with the municipal human resource management office in 2007 and the HRMO testified that she issued the earlier certification on March 19, 2012 as she did not find Pagedped’s 2006 SALN and that she belatedly discovered the same in the year 2017 with the files for the 2007 outgoing communications in her office.
The court explained interestingly, it was only when the case was filed in court that the accused claimed, for the first time, to have filed his 2006 SALN through the municipal council liaison officer on or before August 2007.
Court records showed that during the preliminary investigation at the Office of the Ombudsman, Pagedped consistently admitted the non-filing of his 20006 SALN and he admitted in his counter-affidavit on March 28, 2012 that his SALN for 2006, which should have been filed not later than April 30, 2007, was not filed due to inadvertence.
In his motion for reconsideration dated October 18, 2013 filed with the Ombudsman, he made the same statement that the staff of the municipal council failed to file his assailed 2006 SALN and because he was busy campaigning, he did not notice the same. He further stated that he still has with him a copy of the SALN that was not submitted by his staff.
The decision asserted that even if the assailed 2006 SALN of Pagedped was submitted in August 2007, it will not exonerate the accused from the charge and that there is no doubt that Pageped’s 2006 SALN was not filed with the HRMO on or before April 30, 2007.
The court claimed that the error in the information on the year where the SALN was not filed is not fatally defective as the sufficiency and validity of the information was not actually affected. Further, the defect did not prevent the accused from defending himself.