Ombud sacks revenue worker for demanding ‘extra fee’

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Monday, November 8, 2010


CEBU CITY -- The Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas dismissed from the service another Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) examiner for demanding P50,000 from a land broker in Lapu-Lapu City four years ago.

Graft Investigator Sarah Jo Vergara denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Omar Mamongcara, revenue officer II assigned at BIR-Mandaue City, which sought to reverse the decision dismissing him from the service.

Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Central Visayas arrested Mamongcara in an entrapment inside a department store in 2006.

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Complainant Elenita Maranga, a broker, asked for the NBI’s help after Mamongcara, she said, demanded P50,000 from her for the processing of a deed of sale.

Framed, he says

Maranga was brokering more than 1,600 square meters in Barangay Canjulao, Lapu-Lapu City that was worth P800,000.

Mamongcara, according to the case records, insisted on meeting Maranga in a department store and demanded the amount after he examined the lot document.

But Mamongcara, in his motion for reconsideration, said the entrapment was a frame-up arranged by those who were out to destroy his reputation and clean record as BIR examiner for more than 27 years.

In fact, Mamongcara said, Maranga executed an affidavit of desistance. The civil aspect of the case has been “amicably settled,” he told the anti-graft office.

Mamongcara said the complainant executed her affidavit of desistance from pursuing the case.

In effect, the criminal case against the BIR examiner was dismissed by the court, following the complainant’s affidavit of desistance.

But Vergara was unconvinced by the complainant’s argument.

“Foremost of all, the ombudsman finds wisdom in the oft-upheld edict that affidavits of desistance are better left demurred than trusted,” said Vergara.

In many instances, the Supreme Court has consistently pronounced its disfavor on the dropping of complaints on mere affidavits of desistance or retraction, said Vergara.

“The ombudsman highly values solid proof and convincing circumstantial evidence over and above the impulse of the parties and thus its same wariness against a witness’ desistance,” said Vergara.

Vergara said the complainant’s affidavit of desistance was “overly succinct to the point of inadequacy.”

Vergara said Maranga did not even explain in her affidavit how the entrapment operation was a frame-up.

“For sure, the NBI, a neutral party in this case, would not be easily persuaded into conducting operations under (those) circumstances,” Vergara said.

Vergara said the NBI 7 agents carried out the entrapment based on a “truthful and reliable” complaint of Maranga at that time.

The settlement of the civil aspect may be significant to both parties, but immaterial in the administrative case, especially when public interest is involved, she added.

“Needless to stress, what is of primary importance in the administrative case on hand is the adverse impact of the incident upon the integrity and efficiency of the public service,” said Vergara.

The ombudsman’s office has also dismissed from the service two BIR officers in Cebu City for extorting money from a taxpayer in exchange for reducing a tax assessment in 2005.

Graft investigator Allan Francisco Garciano affirmed the decision of Ombudsman Merceditas Guitierrez in 2007, dismissing from the service Bonifacio Ybañez, special investigation division chief of BIR, Cebu City and Francis Mercado, intelligence officer III of BIR special investigation division, for grave misconduct.

“In fine, this office maintains its previous finding that there is substantial evidence to hold respondents (Mercado and Ybañez) administratively guilty of grave misconduct,” said Garciano in his 13-page omnibus order, which denied the motion for reconsiderations of the respondents.

Leonila Montero, who owns the Alona Tropical Beach Resort in Panglao, Bohol, had asked for help from the police after the respondents negotiated with her the reduction of her tax assessment, from P200,000 to P60,000.

Ybañez personally received the P30,000, which represented 50 percent of the reduced tax assessment, said Garciano. (GMD of Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 09, 2010.

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