BONTOC, Mountain Province – A member of the provincial board was ordered dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service when he submitted alleged falsified documents to liquidate his cash advance amounting to more or less P7,800.
In a 7-page decision approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, boardmember Romeo M. Pagedped will also face the accessory penalty of cancellation of his eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and barred from taking civil service examinations.
The decision added that in the event that the penalty of dismissal can no longer be enforced due to his separation from the service, the same shall be converted into a fine in the amount equivalent to his salary for one year, payable to the Ombudsman and may be deductible from his retirement benefits, accrued leave credits or any receivables from his office.
The decision stated that the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and barred from taking civil service examinations which are attached to the principal penalty of dismissal shall continue to be imposed on him.
Records show that Pagedped was able to obtain a cash advance of P7,800 for him to attend a Civil Service Summit on Administrative Governance in the Cordillera from June 20-22, 2012.
Subsequently, he liquidated his cash advance by submitting official receipt issued by the CSC-CAR, travel order, CSC-CAR certificate of appearance to prove his attendance in the summit, revised itinerary of travel showing the amount of P7,800 as his total expense for the travel and certificate of travel completed that allowed him to claim an additional P460 for the said travel.
However, it was alleged that the boardmember did not actually attend the summit and the submitted documents he submitted to liquidate his cash advance and collect the additional amount were allegedly falsified as proven by the CSC-CAR’s daily report of collections and deposits from June 1-30, 2012 which do not show OR No. 2379437-5 in the list of ORs issued and the attendance sheets for the summit which do not show his name.
Further, it was contended that the provincial official should be held administratively liable for serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service for allegedly using falsified documents to make it appear that he attended the summit, thereby entitling him to the cash advance and to collect an additional amount for his travel expenses.
Pagedped vehemently denied the allegations against him, asserting that he attended the summit and that he was not able to sign the attendance sheet because he was late and forgot to log in and upon arrival, he immediately proceeded to one of the vacant tables.
Moreover, the questioned OR number was reportedly handed to him by the late boardmember Teodoro Lacwasan to whom he had entrusted the payment of the seminar registration of P5,400.
He stated that he had no reason to doubt boardmember Lacwasan or the authenticity of the questioned OR, he had submitted all the documents to liquidate his cash advance and the Commission on Audit (COA) did not issue any audit observation memorandum or notice of disallowance or suspension on the liquidation of the cash advance.
Pagedped asserted that he could not be made administratively liable for the alleged act because the same was committed during his last term as boardmember in the immediately succeeding election.
The decision pointed out there was substantial evidence on record to hold him administratively liable for serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service for utilizing alleged falsified documents to liquidate his cash advance and collect an additional amount for the said travel.
The decision emphasized that the boardmember failed to satisfactorily overcome the allegation that he did not attend the summit and that the affidavits of his witnesses attesting to his purported presence during the summit cannot prevail over the official documents of the CSC-CAR such as the daily report and the attendance sheets of the summit.
According to the ruling, there is no direct proof as to the author of the falsified documents and the fact that he was in possession of the falsified documents which he used for his own advantage and benefit could even give rise to the presumption that he was the forger of the same.
The decision argued that the dishonest act of the local official effectively tarnished the image and integrity of his public office thereby also making him administratively liable for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.