3 ex-LTO execs cleared of grave misconduct

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

THE Supreme Court (SC) has cleared three former officials of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) 7 who were charged with grave misconduct over the vehicle registration processing in 2002.

The SC Second Division denied the appeal of the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas, which dismissed from service the three state workers.

“We find that the elements of misconduct, simple or grave, to be wanting and unproven,” read the SC decision penned by Associate Justice Arturo Brion.

Deputy Ombudsman Pelagio Apostol said it is now up to the lawyers of the three respondents what legal moves they may initiate following the ruling.

In 2004, then Deputy Ombudsman Primo Miro found Porferio Mendoza, then LTO 7 chief; Marilyn Erederos, Mendoza’s niece and secretary; and Catalina Alingasa, then LTO clerk, liable for grave misconduct.

Miro also reprimanded Oscar Peque of the LTO operations division, for simple misconduct.

The complaints against them stemmed from the alleged selling of documents for the registration of vehicles in 2002.

Graft investigation and prosecution officer Corazon Arnado-Carrillo found evidence to charge them based on the affidavits of eight complainants.

The complainants alleged that Erederos and Alingasa demanded money from them in exchange for blank confirmation certificates, a requirement in the registration of new or reconstructed vehicles.

They said they were forced to pay because without the certificates, the cars they were
selling could not be sold.

“This office believes that Alingasa collected P2,500 per pad of confirmation certificates and gave the collections to Erederos who, in turn, remitted the amount to Mendoza. The demand to collect such amount for each pad is obviously upon instruction of the latter,” the ombudsman said.

“Erederos and Alingasa, who are under the control of Mendoza, are not crazy and will not dare to collect such amount if this is without the order of their boss,” it added.

The eight complainants are Maricar Huete, representing GCY Parts, Ernesto Cantillas of Isuzu Cebu Inc.; Leonardo Villaraso of TBS Trading, Romeo Climaco of Penta Star Integrated Services, Rova Carmelotes of AZC Trading Center; Mildred Regidor of Grand Ace Commercial, Estrella dela Cerna of JRK Automotive Supply and Vivencia Pedroza of Winstar Motor Sales.

They said the certificates were supposed to be free.

Mendoza, in his counter-affidavit, denied the accusations.

He said the distribution and processing of vehicle certificates were assigned to Alingasa.

Erederos and Alingasa also argued that they did not collect, demand and or receive money from the complainants as payment for the confirmation certificates.

On Jan. 9, 2004, Miro dismissed the trio for grave misconduct.

The respondents filed their motion for reconsideration, but it was denied.

The trio later appealed their dismissal from the service before the Court of Appeals (CA), which granted their petition in November 2005.

The appellate court ruled that the complainants failed to specify the respondents who personally demanded money from them.

It said the ombudsman’s finding of grave misconduct was not supported by documentary evidence.

Miro filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was denied.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 15, 2013.

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