Ex-diplomat gets up to 8 years in jail for falsifying college records
MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has sentenced to up to eight years in prison a former ranking official of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for falsely claiming that she graduated from the University of the Philippines (UP).
In a statement, the Office of the Ombudsman said the anti-graft court found former Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Ma. Lourdes Ramiro-Lopez guilty beyond reasonable doubt for falsification of public document for writing down in her personal data sheet (PDS) that she finished AB Broadcast Communication in UP.
Besides meting out a jail term, the court ordered Lopez, who also once served as Philippine consul general in Japan, to pay a fine of P5,000.
In 2013, the Ombudsman dismissed Lopez from government service after finding her guilty of administrative charges for dishonesty, misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service.
It also barred her perpetually from joining the public service and ordered the cancellation of her civil service eligibility and forfeiture of her retirement benefits.
“The falsity of the statements made by the accused in her PDS, specifically her degree received, is confirmed by the testimonies of competent UP school officials who attested to the fact that per school records, accused did not graduate and her units cross-enrolled in Miriam College were not credited,” the court ruled.
It said the former diplomat “took advantage of her official position” when she intentionally entered the false information in her PDS.
The court said Lopez “had the duty to make or prepare the PDS, as it was for the purpose of her promotion, hence, she had a legal obligation to disclose the truth of the facts stated in the documents.”
A former foreign service staff employee at the Philippine consulate in New York City, Lopez was promoted as foreign service officer of the DFA before she was promoted as counsellor and chief of mission.
In securing her conviction, Ombudsman prosecutors submitted as evidence school records, including transcript of records, certified true copy of grades and master list of graduating students of the UP College of Mass Communication, which proved that she failed to finish her undergraduate course in 1970 as she had claimed.
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