BIR and BOC officials under scrutiny for deceptive info in SALNs, other charges

A September 14, 2012, press release from the Department of Finance

On September 13 and 14, 2012, the Finance Department’s anti-corruption unit, Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS), initiated complaints anew with the Office of the Ombudsman against Jose Paras Dimatulac, Customs Operations Officer III, Bureau of Customs (BOC) and Noviemae B. Sibbaluca-Singson, Revenue Officer I, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), on account of misleading information in their sworn SALNs.

In its 11-page complaint against Dimatulac, RIPS alleged that the former provided some illusory information in his SALNs regarding particular real and personal properties.

Based on Dimatulac’s SALNs filed for the years 2001 to 2010, respondent claimed that he acquired through “installments his house and lot in Parañaque City in 1992. In the course of RIPS’ investigation, however, the same real property was actually a subject of a Deed of Donation on June 10, 1992, between the respondent and Spouses Artemio and Lucia Diaz.

Similarly, Dimatulac, who hails from San Fernando, Pampanga, declared in his SALNs that he acquired through inheritance a residential lot in Pampanga sometime in 2003. However, the San Fernando City Treasurer’s Office verified in its Certification dated May 30, 2012, that there were no records of real property and business tax payments pertaining to respondent, his spouse, or his son. On the other hand, the Provincial Assessor of the same jurisdiction confirmed in its Certification dated August 15, 2012, that there were no existing real properties registered under the names of respondent and his family.

Dimatulac likewise left out in his SALNs his spouse’s one-storey commercial building, employed as a barber shop/repair shop, located along Ninoy Aquino Avenue, La Huerta, Parañaque City. As evidenced by Tax Declaration No. E-005-02108, respondent’s spouse, Maria S. Dimatulac, was identified as its owner, who also paid real estate taxes for the same property, based on Official Receipt No. 27747962-P issued by the Parañaque City Treasurer’s Office.

The Customs official’s 2001 to 2008 SALNs showed that he purchased in 1995 a Toyota Corolla XL on installment basis for P409,000, which he later on sold for P150,000.00 as indicated from his 2009 SALN. While the same sedan was no longer reported in his subsequent SALNs as he was no longer the owner thereof, such claim was contradicted by Motor Vehicle Inquiry Detail No. 1380-00000110934 issued by the Land Transportation Office (LTO)–Diliman District Office, which identified Dimatulac as the car owner.

RIPS, in its complaint, equally questioned Dimatulac’s apparent lack of necessary educational qualifications as Customs Operations Officer, which, based on BOC’s Position Description form, required a Bachelor’s degree.

As deduced from the Registrar’s Letter dated April 20, 2012, from the Mapua Institute of Technology, “Mr. Jose P. Dimatulac was in attendance in this Institute during the 1st semester, 1965–1966 up to 1st semester, 1974–1975 as a 5th year Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in the School of MME,” clearly indicative of respondent’s non-completion of his college studies.

“Taking into consideration these ineluctable facts, it cannot be gainsaid that respondent’s duplicity with regard to his qualifications for the position of Customs Operations Officer III caused undue prejudice to the government, as the appointment of another candidate who possesses the requisite qualifications is more preferable and proper under the circumstances,” RIPS’ complaint in part stated.

As for Revenue Officer Sibbaluca- Singson, currently assigned at Revenue Region No. 5, Revenue District Office No. 25B, in Sta. Maria, Bulacan, RIPS’ official investigation revealed that respondent declared only three parcels of land located in Cagayan Province. However, as it turned out, there were actually four parcels of land registered under Sibbaluca- Singson’s name, all located in Dodan, Peñablanca, Cagayan, which consisted of two cornlands, a fruitland, and a residential lot.

Moreover, Sibbaluca-Singson’s 2010 and 2011 SALNs indicated that she acquired allegedly thru sale a conjugal house and lot in Manila for P900,000. A concerned citizen, however, through the Pera ng Bayan website, furnished the Finance Department a copy of the Contract to Sell referring to the same property that actually fetched a much higher price of P3,400,000.

The Contract to Sell, which was executed on March 3, 2009, between Global Lands Develop & Invest Corporation and Spouses Michael and Noviemae S. Singson, involved a 71–square meter town house identified as “Unit 7” and located at 157 J. Ruiz St. San Juan, Metro Manila. Based on its terms, Spouses Singson spent P50,000 as reservation fee and paid five equal monthly installments of three hundred forty thousand pesos P340,000 from March 31, 2009, to July 31, 2009, or a total of P1,700,000. Meanwhile, the remaining balance of P1,650,000.00 was payable through bank financing scheme.

Shortly after, the same property was conveyed to Spouses Singson by virtue of a Deed of Absolute Sale on August 17, 2009, for only nine hundred thousand pesos P900,000.

RIPS stated in its complaint, “It is interesting to note the disparity between the purchase price of the subject property as stated in the March 3, 2009, Contract to Sell which is P3,400,000 and the purchase price thereof as stated in the August 17, 2009, Deed of Absolute Sale which is Nine Hundred Thousand Pesos P900,000 only. Hence, it can only be surmised that the parties thereto undervalued the subject property when they executed the August 17, 2009, Deed of Absolute Sale in order to conceal the true value of their net worth and to evade the payment of correct taxes. It is curious how respondent and her husband were able to pay P340,000 per month from March 31, 2009, to July 31, 2009, for the subject property when during said period, respondent’s gross annual salary ranged only from P156,792 to P173,796. It bears to emphasize that respondent has no other source of income or business interest and financial connection except for the income of her husband who works as a Medical Technologist at Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital. Suffice it to state, respondent and her husband acquired the subject property using money from unexplained sources considering that their combined income would not compensate for the installment payments thereof.”

Singson also deferred the declaration of some properties in her 2010 and 2011 SALNs, consisting of a 2009 house and lot in J. Ruiz St., Salapan, San Juan, Manila; a 2009 parcel of land in Cagayan; and a residential house and lot in the same province, both allegedly acquired through gratuitous transfer in 2005 and 2007, respectively. The P1.7 million real estate mortgage on the San Juan realty incurred in 2009 was also belatedly reported by Singson in her SALNs for 2010 and 2011.

Indicators of illegally acquired gains also cropped up during RIPS’s investigation against Singson.

RIPS observed in its complaint, “Respondent, dubiously, was able to acquire several valuable properties despite her modest income during her tenure in government service. Be it noted that it is only in 2008 that respondent got married, her husband is also a government employee and they do not have any other source of income, business interest or financial connection.”

Supporting records obtained by RIPS during its investigation exposed Singson’s excessive purchases of jewelry, appliances, furniture, real properties, and other investments for various years since her appointment at the BIR in 2004.

Singson also failed to secure the requisite Travel Authority as certified by the DOF–Central Records Management Division dated 5 July 2012, which in part stated that, “This is to certify that to date, this Division has no record on file of Travel Authority issued in favor of Ms. Noviemae Sibbaluca Singson or Noviemae b. Sibbaluca, Revenue Officer II, Bureau of Internal Revenue.” Travel information on Singson revealed that her family was abroad from December 23 to 27, 2010 as confirmed by the Bureau of Immigration in its Certification dated July 25, 2012.

Dimatulac and Singson may confront possible preventive suspension pending preliminary investigation of the complaints against them with the Office of the Ombudsman under Republic Act 6770.

To date, RIPS has filed 124 cases against 165 individuals and secured 62 suspensions from office and 21 dismissals from the service against the officials and employees of its attached bureaus and agencies.