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CA upholds dismissal of customs worker over SALN dishonesty

THE Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the dismissal of a customs employee over her failure to disclose a Bulacan property in her annual Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs), the Department of Finance (DoF) said Tuesday.

The DoF said in a statement that former customs operations officer Miriam Casurayan was found to have deliberately omitted from her SALN ownership of a house in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. The DoF was citing an October 2020 CA ruling sent to the DoF on Jan. 11.

The property was purchased in 1998 but not declared in Ms. Casurayan’s SALN, according to the anti-corruption arm of the DoF, the Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS).

“As a government employee, it is incumbent upon Casayuran to provide truthful disclosures in her SALNs. As discussed by the Honorable Court in its decision, the full disclosure of one’s wealth in SALNs is a means of preventing and curtailing corruption and maintaining a standard of honesty in the public service,” Finance Undersecretary for legal affairs Bayani H. Agabin was quoted as saying.

The case had earlier been dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman before elevation to the CA.

The CA ruling affirmed her dismissal from the service, disqualification from future public office, and the forfeiture of retirement benefits.

The court cited the case of Fajardo vs. Corral, which held that SALN omissions or misdeclarations with “malicious intent” are grounds for dismissal.

The DoF early this year launched a complaints portal known as the Information against Corruption page to serve as a channel for whistleblowers reporting unexplained wealth among the personnel of the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

It also covers officials at the DoF, Bureau of the Treasury, Bureau of Local Government Finance, Insurance Commission, National Tax Research Center, Central Board of Assessment Appeals, Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp., Philippine Export-Import Credit Agency, the Privatization and Management Office, and Securities and Exchange Commission.

In October, President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered a broad investigation into corruption in the government, running until 2022.

RIPS has investigated 403 personnel of the DoF and its agencies since July 2016.

Administrative and criminal cases have been filed against 60 personnel, with 14 dismissed.

RIPS has the authority to look into suspected cases of corruption and file criminal, civil or administrative complaints. — Beatrice M. Laforga

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