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RIPS probe Isabel sub-port Customs collector for unexplained wealth

THE FINANCE Department’s Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS) has filed a graft complaint against the Customs of the Sub-Port of Isabel, Leyte here, for allegedly accumulating wealth beyond his salary and lawful income.
Based on the complaint filed by RIPS with the Ombudsman on January 12, 2012, Sevellino C. Tomol, Customs Collector I, accumulated unlawful wealth beyond his salary as a public servant and other lawful income, failed to report several real properties and improvements thereon, mis-declared the actual values of his assets, and provided false and deceptive information regarding his properties and business interests in his sworn Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN).
A careful comparative analysis of Tomol’s SALNs for the years 2000 to 2010 revealed that he owned a house and lot in Tacloban, ricefield, cocolands and agricultural lot in Silago, Southern Leyte, residential land and another rural land in San Carlos City, Pangasinan. Aside from his exclusive personal assets, he also purchased during the said period various motor vehicles such as a sedan, Kia Pregio van, Nissan Urvan Estate, and Toyota Hi-Ace Commuter AUV.
Supporting documents gathered by RIPS showed that in October 2007, Tomol, through a promissory note with chattel mortgage executed in favor of BPI Family Bank, bought the Nissan Urvan Estate for P1,370,000.00, tendering P411,000.00 as down payment while the outstanding balance will be paid thereafter to the tune of P35,673.00 for 36 months. Tomol also purchased in August 2008 a Toyota Hi-Ace Commuter AUV for P1,160,000.00 in cash.
“Considering that respondent was only receiving a monthly salary of P20,871.00 in 2007 and a monthly salary of P23,532.00 in 2008, it is inconceivable for respondent to be able to afford the acquisition of the two aforementioned vehicles. Such amount of expenses is definitely disproportionate to his lawful salary as a government employee,” RIPS said in its complaint.
His SALNs indicated that Tomol likewise racked up various loans and other payables in the amount of P 105,496.00 in 2000 which steadily increased to P 1,086,037.28 in 2010.
Yet, despite such acquisitions and arrears, Tomol’s service record as issued by the BOC specified that his current gross salary as Collector I is only at P 439,656.00 per annum, excluding applicable taxes.
His 2010 SALN disclosed that Tomol’s total net worth grew to P 3,754,908.72.
In the course of the lifestyle investigation, RIPS also stumbled upon Tomol’s ownership of a 216 sq.m. real property with a residential building situated in Barangays Caibaan and Marasbaras, Tacloban City which he was able to acquire through a Deed of Absolute Sale with Assignment from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) sometime in 1993. The same property was not reflected in any of Tomol’s 2000 to 2010 SALNs.
Worse, Tomol consistently represented in his 2000 to 2010 SALNs that he owned a residential lot and an agricultural land in San Carlos City, Pangasinan but which was belied by a certification from the Office of the City Assessor of the said place, confirming that neither Tomol nor any of his family members has real properties registered under their names in the said jurisdiction.
The RIPS complaint further points out that “adding to Tomol’s violations is his failure to disclose the acquisition costs of his landholdings as he only indicated its fair market values – a scheme that he adopted to conceal the actual value of his real properties so as not to stir up any notion that he accumulated wealth from unlawful sources through dishonest means”.
Insofar as his business ventures are concerned, it was discovered during the investigation that Tomol’s family was engaged in transportation business, three of which were based in Tacloban City, namely: RAMS-J Tours, acquired in November 2006 and declared in Tomol’s 2006 SALN; RAMS-J Travel Link, reported only in Tomol’s 2009 and 2010 SALNs but was actually acquired way back 2007; and Fiolah Tours, disclosed by Tomol in his 2007 SALN, notwithstanding that he was already connected to the business since December 2006. RAMS-J Tours and Fiolah Tours were registered under Tomol’s children, James and Sellah, respectively.
In contrast with his 2000 to 2005 SALNs, Tomol indicated therein that he had no business interests whatsoever during the said period of time.
Incorrigibly, Tomol held back in his 2007 SALN the fact that he and another child of his, Marped, had respective business interests in Ormoc-based RAMS-J Travel Links, formed on February 15, 2008, and BG Express, which was put up in October 2007.
However, it was verified with the City Government of Tacloban that the names of Tomol and his children do not appear in the business registry of the said locality from 2006 to date.
Extant from the available records was that RAMS-J Travel Link and Information System, located in Ormoc City, has five vans and computer units which were never disclosed in Tomol’s SALNs.
Tomol’s actuations gave rise to multiple violations of Section 7, Republic Act 3019, as amended, Section 8 (A), Republic Act 6713, Falsification of Official Documents and Perjury under the Articles 171 (4) and 183, Revised Penal Code, and Grave Misconduct and Dishonesty under the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.
Significantly, Tomol may be placed under preventive suspension without pay pending investigation of the administrative and criminal cases against him pursuant to Section 24, Republic Act 6770, or the Ombudsman Act of 1989.
If found culpable of the aforementioned acts, Tomol is in danger of being dismissed from the service while his properties will be forfeited by the government in accordance with Section 2, Republic Act 1379, also known as Forfeiture of Ill-Gotten Wealth.
As mandated by Executive Order No. 259, series of 2003, RIPS, at present, has initiated 101 graft and lifestyle cases against one hundred forty one 142 personalities, 60 of whom were suspended from office while twenty 20 were already dismissed from service.
The EV Mail tried to get Tomol’s side in a visit to Isabel on Thursday, but the mayor’s office which made the call to arrange an appointment, was told he was not around. Source: www.rips.gov.ph

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