CA affirms dismissal of BOC employee over unexplained wealth

MANILA — The Court of Appeals (CA) denied the petition filed by a Bureau of Customs official thus affirming the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman dismissing Victor Cerniaz Barros from service due to his unexplained wealth.

In a 22-page decision penned by Associate Justice Renato Francisco and concurred in by Associate Justices Apolinario Bruselas Jr. and Danton Bueser which was released to media on Friday, the CA’s 14th Division denied Barros petition for review upholding the Ombudsman’s ruling that ordered the dismissal of Barros, a Special Agent II of the BOC.

The CA said Barros failed “to satisfactorily explain the accumulation of his wealth or even identify the sources of such accumulated wealth”.

“The documents Barros presented, if any, like those purportedly showing that his relatives remitted money, do not prove that they did in fact contribute or remit money. Hence, we find that the foregoing actions show a clear intent on the part of Barros to violate Section 8 of RA 6713 [or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees],” the appellate court said.

Records of the case showed that Barros was charged with 2 counts of Falsification of Public Documents under Art. 171 of the Revised Penal Code; 5 counts of violation of Sec. 7 of RA 3019; and one count of violation of Sec. 8 of RA 6713, following his failure to declare a PHP2-million housing loan in his 1995 SALN; a property in Laguna in his 1996 SALN.

According to the anti-graft office, Barros did not also declare his Cherokee Pioneer V6 in his SALNs from 1989 to 2006; and a Mercedes Benz, a Kawasaki motorcycle, and shares of stock in a general service enterprise in his SALNs for 2003 to 2005, as he was also indicted for failing to file his SALNs for the years 1980, 1982 to 1986, 1990, 1991, and 2006.

The Ombudsman had ordered the forfeiture of unlawfully acquired properties of Barros and his wife, as it held that he amassed wealth which is almost five times greater than the total annual gross compensation he had received from the government just within a period of 13 years. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/