The Office of the Ombudsman found Romulo Gonzaga, Registrar of Deeds of Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, guilty of Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service and was ordered dismissed from the service.

The penalty of dismissal from the service carries the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits, cancellation of eligibility, and bar from taking the civil service examination.

During the investigation, it was found that Gonzaga caused the cancellation of three Transfer Certificates of Title (TCTs) over properties owned by the estate of the late Gloria Esteban without the required Certificate Authorizing Registration (CAR) issued by the Bureau of Internal Revenue. TCT Nos. T-171828, T-171829 and T-171830 were cancelled solely on the basis of an affidavit-request filed by a certain Glorieta Javelosa on 14 February 2011.  Consequently, TCT Nos. T-281788, T-281790 and T-281789 were issued to Javelosa on the same date of the affidavit-request. The validity of the new TCTs was subsequently assailed by the Estate of Esteban.

On 27 April 2012, respondent Gonzaga acquiesced to the request for the reinstatement of the interest of the original owner, Gloria Esteban.  As a result, TCT Nos. T-281788, T-281790 and T-281789 were cancelled, and TCT Nos. 2012001622 to 24 were issued without passing through the BIR or without the required CAR or Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC).

According to the Ombudsman’s Decision, “from the evidence of the parties, it can be established that respondent Gonzaga, the Register of Deeds of Negros Occidental, not only wrongfully annotated the Deed of Donation without the corresponding CAR and TCC in gross violation of Sec. 95 of the NIRC (National Internal Revenue Code), but also committed subsequent acts designed to conceal his wrongdoing and evade responsibility, therefor, in the guise of “corrective measures” that were in blatant disregard of the provisions of P.D. 1529 (Property Registration Decree), thereby causing great prejudice to the integrity of the system of property registration and albeit unbeknownst to them, prejudice to the successors-in-interest of the properties.”

“Respondent in effect turned the property registry of Negros Occidental into some kind of scratch paper —to be altered, amended or corrected in whatever way he deemed most convenient to himself, without regard to the consequences thereof as would affect other parties,” added the Ombudsman Decision.

Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Paul Elmer Clemente directed the Administrator of the Land Registration Authority to implement the dismissal order.

In the related criminal case, the Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to charge Gonzaga before the Regional Trial Court with violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act). ###