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Fiscal endorses falsification raps vs motorcycle dealer

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - April 16, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The Office of the City Prosecutor in Mandaue City has recommended the filing of nine counts of charges for falsification of commercial documents against officials and employees of a motorcycle dealer.

“Wherefore, premises considered, it is respectively recommended that an Information for nine (9) counts of falsification of commercial documents by private individual under Article 172 paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code be filed in court,” read the dispositive portion of the nine-page resolution signed by City Prosecutor Mary Francis Daquipil.

The complaint was filed by the Land Transportation Office (LTO)-7, represented by Regional Director Victor Emmanuel Caindec, against Des Strong Motors Inc. (DSMI) for “conspiring and confederating with each other, falsified the commercial documents that were submitted or uploaded to the Land Transportation Office Do-It-Yourself System.”

LTO-7’s complaint is for falsification under Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code. This provision punishes the crime of falsification committed by a private individual. Acts of falsification are enumerated in Article 171 of the Code.

The respondents include DSMI president Dr. Silvestre Lumapas, Jr.; DSMI corporate secretary Marilous Lumapas; DSMI-Briones Highway Mandaue City Branch employees Julio Arabejo Jr., Rovelyn Ranises, Emita Binarao, Renie Tumon, and Joann Lanzaderas; and several John Does.

Arabejo, Ranises and Binarao are the authorized representatives of DSMI to transact business with LTO relative to the processing of sales reporting using the “Do-It-Yourself” system. On the other hand, Tumon and Lanzaderas are the area manager and branch manager, respectively.

Fake papers?

Caindec said respondents submitted and uploaded sales invoices having different entries, particularly the dates, compared to the copies of the same invoices retained by DSMI and official receipt and delivery receipt issued to its customers.

The purpose of which could be to defeat the period fixed by law in the registration of motor vehicles, thus making the documents to be falsified, Caindec claimed.

The alleged falsification of sales invoice No. 50297 was discovered after motorcycle owner Nick Salaritan was apprehended by an LTO enforcer on March 6, 2020.

His sales invoice shows that his motorcycle was sold for P119,000 in DSMI Capacio Building, National Highway, Luray I, Toledo City Branch on Dec. 19, 2019. This is allegedly contrary to the one reported to LTO’s Do-It-Yourself System, which is a unit sold on Feb. 10, 2020 for P155,000 at the DSMI Mandaue City Branch.

LTO-7 presented nine different invoices, including that of Salaritan, to support its complaint.

The other eight invoices were discovered on March 5, 2020 through LTO’s on-site inspection of DSMI A. Cortes, Mandaue City Branch.

LTO-7 found out that the entries written on duplicate copies of these invoices were handwritten and showed that the motorcycles were actually sold on January 10, 2020 and the signatories were different as compared to the ones uploaded to the system.

Counter-affidavit

The respondents of the complaint received a subpoena on Jan. 28, 2021, asking them to submit their counter-affidavit. They are all represented by Atty. Michael Cañete.

In their counter-affidavits, the respondents insisted on their innocence, citing several reasons.

These include corporate officers and employees are not liable for the company’s alleged violation; there was no specific allegation and proof of their personal and individual overt and active involvement in the alleged falsification; no positive and conclusive proof of alleged conspiracy and Caindec is not the proper party and has no locus standi; hearsay statements have no probative value or evidentiary value;

Caindec has no authority from the secretary of the Department of Transportation to file the complaint but the Office of the Solicitor General; the commercial documents submitted were illegally seized by the raiding teams; the elements of falsification by making an untruthful statement of facts are absent; and the filing of the complaint is persecution not prosecution.

Resolution

The Resolution dated March 15, 2021 penned by Associate City Prosecutor Anna Marie Yap and approved by Daquipil stated that all the elements of the crime of falsification of commercial documents by a private individual are present.

The resolution stated that respondents who are then officers and employees of DSMI can face charges of the said complaint in their personal capacity.

It said that although the respondents contended that there was no direct or categorical and substantial evidence to prove direct or overt acts of the said complaint, the applicable rule is that “if a person has in his possession a falsified document and he made use of it, taking advantage of it and profiting from it, the presumption is that he is the material author of the falsification”.

The complaint is for conspiracy to defraud the government by submitting falsified documents.

“Respondents cannot claim good faith and lack of knowledge of the defective sales invoices submitted to LTO for their attention were already called upon by LTO-7 regarding the violation,” the resolution read adding “that several show cause letters some were answered but some were not”.

The resolution stated that despite such fact the practice made by respondents of submitting falsified documents to LTO-7 continued.

As for the other issues/ defenses raised by the respondents, the resolution stated that these were legal and technical.

“Its validity and merit are better ventilated during the trial proper than at the preliminary investigation level,” it added. — KQD (FREEMAN)

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