3 ex-Ombudsman office execs charged with tampering with, falsifying rulings

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Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales: We will not relent in our fight against all forms of anomalies in government. INQUIRER file photo

MANILA, Philippines—The Office of the Ombudsman has filed criminal charges against deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Mark Jalandoni and two of his former staff members for tampering with decisions, resolutions, orders and other official documents, which was uncovered during an inventory of cases following the resignation of the agency’s former chief, Merceditas Gutierrez, two years ago.

In a nine-page resolution signed July 25, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales found probable cause to indict Jalandoni, former Assistant Ombudsman Nennette De Padua, and former Executive Assistant Rosalyn D. Martinez on 13 counts of falsification of public documents, and 56 counts of infidelity in the custody of public documents through concealment.

In a separate decision, Morales fired Jalandoni, for grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service with his eligibility cancelled, retirement benefits forfeited, and perpetually barred from holding public office and taking civil service examinations. Since Jalandoni resigned a few weeks before Gutierrez did, Morales slapped him with a fine equivalent to his one-year salary.

Morales noted that Jalandoni’s resignation was “tainted with bad faith and deliberately employed to evade this board’s administrative disciplinary jurisdiction.”

The case was filed by Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro who conducted the investigation of the systematic tampering scheme carried out by Jalandoni and his cohorts where they  “patched” Jalandoni’s name over the signatures of approving authorities. Casimiro’s probe yielded at least 56 instances where Jalandoni’s actions led to delays in the resolution of cases and at least 13 cases where Jalandoni made it appear that he was the official authorized to sign the documents even though these have been signed by other Ombudsman officials, including Gutierrez.

“In resolving this case, we are hoping to send a clear and unequivocal message that we are serious in preserving the integrity of the Office of the Ombudsman. We will not relent in our fight against all forms of anomalies in government, even those committed inside our own office, and even those perpetrated by our own high-ranking officials.  As the people’s vanguard against corrupt and abusive public officials, it is imperative that we closely monitor our ranks.  As such, Ombudsman officials and employees should be beyond reproach,” said Morales in a statement.

The charges against three other co-defendants of Jalandoni —  Amie Lou Fernandez, associate graft investigation officer; Grace Anne Arnan, graft prevention and control officer; and Ruby Ann Medallada, administrative aide — were dismissed for lack of probable cause. Fernandez was assessed for simple misconduct for which she was suspended for one month and one day.

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