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Ombudsman orders dismissal of Ormoc ROD

ORMOC CITY – The Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal of Ormoc’s Register of Deeds (ROD) for serious dishonesty in a complaint filed against him by peers in the legal profession.

Ormoc’s Register of Deeds is lawyer Cleto Laurente Evangelista Jr., a former city legal counsel, and the complainant is the Occidental Leyte Bar Association (OLBA), represented by lawyer Josephine Mejia-Romero who is currently city legal counsel.

The order, dated June 23, 2020 and received by OLBA this week, also imposes on Evangelista the penalty of the cancellation of his eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and perpetual disqualification from service.

The OLBA, in the year 2016, filed a complaint against Evangelista alleging that he falsified his personal data sheet (PDS) when he applied as Register of Deeds and did not disclose that he had a previous administrative conviction. He answered “no” to the question whether he had a previous conviction or not.

The OLBA also alleged that he issued two certified true copies of Deeds of Absolute Sale, even if he was not the same lawyer who notarized the same and did not have official custody of their originals.

Evangelista countered that the omission was not intentional and that he disclosed his administrative conviction in his PDS the year after his appointment.

In its order, the Ombudsman said that “respondent Evangelista cannot avoid administrative liability on the ground that the nondisclosure was committed unintentionally”.

“As a lawyer, respondent Evangelista should know that the declarations made in every PDS are not empty statements. Duly accomplished forms of the Civil Service Commission are considered official documents, which, by their very nature are in the same category as public documents. Any misrepresentation therein may amount to dishonesty and falsification,” the order states.

“It must be noted that the false statements in the subject PDS prejudiced other more qualified applicants, who would have been hired for respondent Evangelista’s present position as Register of Deeds had it not been for his misrepresentations. By concealing his previous conviction, he gained unwarranted advantage over other applicants and secured his appointment to a coveted public position despite his questionable moral character,” the order adds. The order was also furnished to the Land Regulation Administration (LRA). It was done by graft investigator Diwata D.R. de Leon and was subsequently approved by Jose M. Balmeo, assistant Ombudsman, and Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires. By the EV Mail Editorial Team

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