Former Customs exec convicted of lying in SALN

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Sandiganbayan building facade. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—A former Customs deputy commissioner has been convicted by the Sandiganbayan for failing to disclose the business interests of his wife and daughter in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

The antigraft court found Gil Valera “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” of violating Republic Act No. 6713, or the Code of Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, for not disclosing his wife Esperanza’s interest in Buy Pinoy Marketing Inc. in his 2001 SALN; Esperanza’s interest in Buy Pinoy and Scout Talents Asia Inc.; and his daughter Maria Beatriz’s shareholdings in MJ Valera Realty in 2003.

The court, however, cleared him of a similar charge involving Valera’s 2002 SALN and and another charge of falsification of public documents involving his 2004 SALN because the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Valera was imposed a fine of P5,000 and perpetual disqualification to hold public office on each conviction. The decision was signed by Associate Justices Rafael Lagos, Efren de la Cruz and Rodolfo Ponferrada.

According to the charges, Valera “willfully, unlawfully and criminally failed” to disclose Esperanza’s business interest in Buy Pinoy Marketing Inc. in his SALN for 2001 and 2002; Esperanza’s interest in Buy Pinoy and Scout Talents Asia Inc. as well as Maria Beatriz’s shares in MJ Realty in 2003; and failed to declare the same information in 2004.

Totally unaware

In his defense, Valera said that Buy Pinoy was founded by his sister Rosario Valera and that his wife did not shell out any money for the shares in her name. Esperanza died on Nov. 20. 2002.

When asked why he failed to declare his wife’s interest in Buy Pinoy and Scout Talents Asia, in his 2002 SALN, Valera explained that Scout Talents was founded and spearheaded by his brother Emmanuel Valera and that like Buy Pinoy, his wife did not shell out money for her shares worth P8,000, and that all the capital was paid by his brother.

In addition, Valera said his wife never mentioned her shares in Scout Talents, thus, he was totally unaware of it.

On Maria Beatriz’s business interest in MJ Valera, he explained that the company was cofounded by his children, Cedric James Valera, Patrick James Valera and Maria Beatriz, who was then only 12 years old at that time. He said he put his name on the articles of incorporation only as a trustee for Maria Beatriz.

Valera also told the court he believed there was no requirement in the SALN to include trust arrangements.

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