DENR employee charged for illegal solicitation
24 January 2017
The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the suspension and indictment of Angelito Villanueva, an employee of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Paranas, Northern Samar, for soliciting money from a respondent whose jeepney filled with illegal lumber was seized by the DENR.
Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Paul Elmer Clemente found Villanueva guilty of Simple Misconduct and was ordered suspended without pay for six months. Clemente also found probable cause to charge the respondent with violation of Section 7(d) of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Officials and Employees (Republic Act No. 6713).
Investigation found that in April 2013, Villanueva as hearing officer, solicited money from a respondent in a pending case in exchange for the release of her jeepney and dismissal of the criminal case for violation of the Forestry Code. According to complainant, “Villanueva told her that they would delay the processing until such time that she would be able to produce the amount demanded.”
When Villanueva sensed that complainant will not accede to the demand for bribe money, the criminal case against complainant was filed in April 2014.
In the approved Decision, it was stated that “the delay in the filing of the criminal case establishes that while performing his official duties, Villanueva indeed solicited from complainant a certain amount of money.”
According to Deputy Ombudsman Clemente, “the delay was cunningly designed by respondent Villanueva to buy time for complainant to produce the solicited amount and that the eventual refusal by complainant to give in to Villanueva’s demand prompted him to cause the filing of the criminal case.”
“When an officer or employee is disciplined, the object is not the punishment of such officer or employee but the improvement of the public service and the preservation of the public’s faith and confidence in the government,” added Clemente.
The Office of the Ombudsman directed the DENR Secretary to implement the suspension order.
Under section 7 (d) of R.A. No. 6713, public officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction, which may be affected by the functions of their office. ###