DOF scores first conviction in 10 years: 1-year jail term, P5,000 fine
The Department of Finance’s (DOF) anti-corruption arm scored its first ever prison sentence in 10 years after a trial court found a former Bureau of Customs’ employee guilty of perjury.
Finance Undersecretary Carlo Carag said Ana Marie Concepcion Maglasang, a former Customs examiner assigned to the South Harbor in Manila, was sentenced by the Metropolitan Trial Court to a prison term of up to one year and to pay a P5,000 fine after he was found guilty of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. She was earlier charged with five-counts of perjury by DOF’s Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS).
The conviction is the first for the DOF since the creation of RIPS 10 years ago. In all previous cases, courts dismissed the perjury charges on the ground of good faith.
“This is a landmark victory for the President’s customs reform program and anti-corruption agenda. At last, our efforts are gaining headway,” Carag said.
The DOF-RIPS filed charges against Maglasang after she failed to submit a true and detailed sworn statement of her assets, liabilities, and net worth. The agency found out that the Customs examiner owns various houses and lots as well as vehicles registered under her name.
In 2005, DOF-RIPS filed a complaint against Maglasang and in 2006, the Office of the Ombudsman, found the accused guilty of Dishonesty and Grave Misconduct and dismissed her from the service.
During the pendency of the case, Maglasang resigned from Customs in an attempt to escape prosecution, but the Ombudsman said resignation should neither be used as an escape nor an easy way out to evade administrative liability or administrative sanction.
“This court decision will send a strong message to the staff of the department and our attached agencies that even if you resign or retire, we will run after you,” Carag said.
The Ombudsman imposed the penalty of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service.
Over the past months, the President has made drastic reforms in Customs, an attached agency of the DOF, to improve its collection and to stop smuggling and corruption.
To support the President’s Customs Reform Agenda, the DOF scaled up its anti-corruption team by hiring former prosecutors with extensive investigative and prosecutorial experiences to strengthen the case build up capacity of RIPS and ensure the successful resolutions of its cases.
The DOF has also tapped the assistance of other agencies such as the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB), the Civil Service Commission (CSC), the Land Registration Authority (LRA), the Land Transportation Office (LTO), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to create green lanes that would give priority to DOF-RIPS requests for information and documents, in order to expedite the investigation and resolution of its cases.