Ex-Baguio registrar of deeds gets 8-year jail term for graft

MANILA — The Sandiganbayan has sentenced a former register of deeds of Baguio City to eight years imprisonment after being found guilty of graft over an illegal land transaction in 2010.

The Sandiganbayan 1st Division, in a decision dated Jan. 11, 2019, ordered former Baguio City Register of Deeds Juanito Ampaguey to be perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

“Moreover, pursuant to Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code, accused Ampaguey is held liable to pay the private complainant, Dick Lee Ong, PHP188,366 or the amount of the legal expenses in recovering the subject property,” the anti-graft court said in its ruling.

Court records showed that Ampaguey was arraigned on July 28, 2016 and pleaded not guilty.

The Office of the Ombudsman charged Ampaguey with graft for allegedly cancelling on April 14, 2010 Ong’s transfer certificate of title No. T-62576 for a parcel of land in Baguio City, consisting of 755 square meters, by issuing TCT No. 018-2010001035 in favor of spouses Ferdinand and Rhighina Samidan, without requiring the owner’s duplicate copy of TCT No. T-62576 or a court order.

An administrative case for grave misconduct was also filed against Ampaguey at the Land Registration Authority (LRA).

The LRA, in a resolution dated Aug. 31, 2012, found him guilty of grave misconduct and imposed a penalty of dismissal from the service.

In the civil case, the Baguio City Regional Trial Court Branch 61, in its decision dated May 18, 2015 ruled for the declaration of nullity of transfer certificate of title No. T-018-20110001035 of the Baguio City Registry of Deeds.

The Sandiganbayan noted that the prosecution was able to present receipts to establish the legal expenses or the amount spent for recovering the property of Ong.

“In his Counter Affidavit dated April 13, 2012 and received by the Ombudsman on April 24, 2012, he [Ampaguey] admitted allowing the issuance TCT No. 018-201000010135 and cancelling TCT No. 62576 without being presented the necessary requirement of an Owner’s Duplicate Copy,” the anti-graft court said.

“No proof of the market value of the property was presented. Market value of the property could have been determined through the tax declaration of the property, for example, or an appraisal report from any appraiser. But, none of these were presented,” the Sandiganbayan said. (
 Perfecto Raymundo, Jr.
/PNA – northboundasia.com