THE Office of the City Prosecutor in Mandaue City has recommended the filing of an information for nine counts of falsification of commercial documents under Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code against seven employees and several John Does of motorcycle dealer DES Strong Motors Inc. (DSMI).
This, after the Land Transportation Office (LTO) 7, represented by Regional Director Victor Emmanuel Caindec, formally filed a complaint against 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 Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante, in a letter dated Oct. 20, 2020, authorized Caindec to file the complaint.
The seven employees named as respondents in the complaint include:
• Dr. Silvestre A. Lumapas Jr. (president of DSMI)
• Marilou Lumapas (corporate secretary of DSMI)
• Renie L. Tumon
• Joann C. Lanzaderas
• Julio Arabejo Jr.
• Rovelyn G. Ranises
• Emelita A. Binarao
Apart from the Lumapases, the others are all employees of DSMI assigned in DSMI Briones Highway, Mandaue City Branch.
According to a resolution by the Mandaue City Prosecutor’s Office dated March 15, 2021, DSMI’s employees downloaded or submitted to LTO’s Do-It-Yourself System invoices having different entries, especially the dates, compared to the copy of the same invoices retained by DSMI and official receipt and delivery receipt issued to its customers.
“The date in the sales invoice submitted to LTO is essential for it will defeat the period fixed by law in the registration of motor vehicles, and it may entail a possible penalty or legal consequences as a result of the alteration,” stated by the resolution signed by City Prosecutor Mary Francis Daquipil.
LTO 7 presented nine different invoices to support its complaint.
One invoice was discovered to have been “falsified” after an LTO enforcer apprehended motorcycle owner Nick Salaritan 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, 2010. 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.
The other eight invoices were discovered on March 5, 2020 through LTO’s on-site inspection of DSMI A. Cortes, Mandaue City Branch.
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, they insisted on their innocence, citing the following reasons:
• Corporate officers and employees are not liable for the company’s alleged violation of the provision in the Revised Penal Code unless the specific provision itself imposes such liability on them personally.
• There was no specific allegation and proof of their personal and individual overt acts and active involvement in the alleged falsification.
• No positive and conclusive proof of alleged conspiracy. The statements made by Caindec in his affidavit-complaint speak not from his personal knowledge of the facts, thereby, hearsay,y and have no probative or evidentiary value. Caindec is not a proper party and has no Locus Standi.
• Caindec has no authority from the Secretary of the Department of Transportation to file an Instant Case against the respondents.
• It is the Office of the Solicitor General who is the principal law officer and legal defender of the government.
• The commercial documents in the affidavit-complaint were illegally seized by the raiding teams.
• Elements of falsification by making an untruthful statement of facts are wanting and absent.
• The filing of the complaint is persecution, not prosecution.
This prompted the Mandaue City Prosecutor’s Office to hold a preliminary investigation.
“Its purpose is not to determine the respondents’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but only to determine first whether or not a crime has been committed and second, whether or not the respondent is ‘probably guilty’ of the crime,” stated the Mandaue City Prosecutor’s Office in its resolution.
It also stated that “what is determined is whether there is sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof and should be held for trial.”
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. (NRC)