LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The Ombudsman junked the motion for reconsideration of an embattled director of the Commission on Audit (COA) seeking possible reversal of its earlier ruling suspending her for three months primarily for lack of merit.
In a 5-page order penned by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Ma. Czarina Castro-Altares and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, the Ombudsman found no ground that would warrant the modification or the reversal of its earlier resolution and decision ordering the suspension of COA director Edna Tomeldan for three months without pay for her failure to submit her Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) twice.
“Records show that no grave errors of facts or laws or serious irregularities had been committed by this office based on the challenged 16 June 2016 resolution and decision. It should be stressed that respondent merely averred the following defences in her counter-affidavit, she religiously filed her SALNs, the COA through the administration sector monitors the filing of the SALN by all COA personnel, the COA HRMO issued memoranda to personnel who failed to comply with the filing of SALN, she did not receive any memorandum of non-compliance, since the inception of performance-based bonus, she continuously received the benefits and she was not privy to how this office keeps the records for SALN submissions,” the order stated.
The Ombudsman ruling added Tomeldan’s defences were sufficiently addressed and passed upon in the challenged resolution and decision, thus, no grave errors of facts and law have been committed.
Further, the order stated it should be noted that Tomeldan only raised belatedly additional defences in the motions for reconsideration.
More importantly, the Ombudsman order explained Tomeldan was given enough opportunity during the preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication proper to submit before the said office copies of her questioned SALNs and all other relevant evidence that could have established that she filed the SALNs within the prescribed period allowed by law.
“Dubiously, it is only upon the filing of the motions for reconsideration when respondent submitted the challenged SALNs even if they could have easily obtained from their office files at the first instance. The administrative case records show that respondent attached in her position paper copies of her alleged submitted SALN, except the challenged 2004, 2007 and 2009 SALNs,” the order stated.
Likewise, the order pointed out a perusal of the challenged SALNs showed that there was no date of receipt stamped on them, thus, it is noteworthy that under Section 8 of Republic Act (RA) 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees require that the said documents must be filed on or before April 30 of every year and assuming that the documents were filed, it is important to establish that they were also timely filed.
The order stipulated the certifications stating that Tomeldan submitted her SALNs or that said SALNs were in the office files do not necessarily show that it was timely filed and noticeable as well that the submitted copies of the challenged SALNs were merely certified photo copy and not certified photo copies of the original. The Ombudsman also questioned the COA high ranking officials for issuing certifications in favour of the respondent even if they are not the ones keeping the SALN files. By HENT