By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has convicted former Bureau of Customs (BOC) Deputy Commissioner Prudencio Melendez Reyes Jr. of breach of conduct charges in relation to the false statements made in his Personal Data Sheet (PDS) and Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
He was sentenced to pay a fine of P15,000. Since there is no civil liability involved in these cases, no award of damages is made by the anti-graft court.
Reyes Jr. was initially charged with a single violation of Article 171 (4) of the Revised Penal Code and three counts of violation of Section 8 of R.A. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
For his falsification charge, he stated under the Civil Service Eligibility of his PDS that he is “CESO (Career Executive Officer) Rank 1,” when he knew for a fact that he is not CES eligible. When he filled up his PDS, his request with the CES Board to note and record his CESO 1 appointment was denied in a resolution dated May 7, 2001.
As for his breach of conduct charges, he failed to disclose his business interests and financial connections in All in One Entertainment Corp., Prudence Group of Companies Inc., and his 2005 Honda TMX125 motorcycle with plate number TO7291 in his SALNs submitted on February 23, 2010, April 30, 2011, and April 30, 2012.
On March 5, 2019, the prosecution moved that the falsification charge against Reyes Jr. be withdrawn since there is a possibility that the third element of the crime will not be proven.
At the same time, Reyes Jr. made an offer for plea bargaining on the condition that the falsification charge be withdrawn.
On May 10, Reyes Jr. finally entered a plea of guilty to his remaining charges. In its eight-page decision, the anti-graft court agreed with the prosecution that the third element of Article 171 paragraph 4 of the RPC is lacking – that the facts narrated are absolutely false.
“It would appear that the accused, in stating that he was a CESO Rank 1 in his PDS, relied – whether rightly or wrongly – on the appointment made by the Office of the President. Thus, it cannot be said that such statement is absolutely false,” the decision read.
And since Reyes Jr. pleaded guilty to the charges, the court ruled that the accused has already deemed to have admitted all the material facts against him.
The decision was penned by Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez with the concurrence of Associate Justice Karl Miranda and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.