No college degree, no freedom for Customs exec
A former intelligence chief of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has been sentenced to six years in prison by the Sandiganbayan for falsely claiming that he had a college degree.
In a 20-page ruling, the antigraft court’s First Division found Filomeno Vicencio Jr. guilty of falsification of a public document under the Revised Penal Code.
Besides the prison term, the court also ordered the former head of the BOC Intelligence and Investigation Service to pay a P1,000 fine.
Vicencio, who was appointed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in May 2009, was charged with falsification by the Office of the Ombudsman after he wrote in his personal data sheet (PDS) that he graduated from the University of the East (UE) in 1969.
Never a student
The prosecution presented on the witness stand UE registrar Erwin Bermillo who had issued two certifications to the Ombudsman showing that Vicencio “was never a student or a graduate” of the university.
Another prosecution witness, BOC human resource management staffer Teresa Cordero, testified that Vicencio’s signature appeared in the personal file which he submitted following his appointment.
Cordero told the court a college degree was among the minimum requirements for the position that Vicencio held as Customs intelligence chief.
Inadvertently filled in
In his defense, Vicencio maintained the entry on his educational background was inadvertently filled in by his son, Ramon Vicencio, who was working for him as his personal assistant and driver at the time.
Vicencio also presented to the court a member of his personal staff, Alfredo Latumbo, who said he saw Ramon write the information on Vicencio’s personal data sheet.
In the April 20 decision written by Associate Justice Rafael Lagos, the court said the testimonies of the younger Vicencio and Latumbo were “incredulous.”
The court noted the “inconsistencies and contradictions” in their statements which the prosecution had pointed out.
“That the accused had not, at any point in the trial or even during the preliminary investigation before the Ombudsman, disclosed where and when indeed he obtained his bachelor’s degree is suspect,” the court said.
“[This] lends credence to the conclusion that he intended to falsely state that he had a bachelor’s degree from [UE] in order to qualify for the position,” it added.
The court said it was “highly improbable” that Ramon did not bother to ask his father where he obtained his college degree even after Vicencio was charged by the Ombudsman for faking his credentials.
“The fact that it was his son who filled in the personal data sheet cannot exculpate the accused,” it added.
“Consequently, even if it was [Ramon] who had written down the untruthful statement in his PDS, the fact remains he had assented to that untruthful statement by virtue of his signature on that document, appropriating the falsehood as his own and rendering him liable for falsification of an official document,” the court ruled.
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