Senate secretary faces complaint over alleged falsification of Senate journal

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 03 2020 11:34 AM | Updated as of Feb 03 2020 05:53 PM

Facade of the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City. ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA (UPDATE) - Senate employees have filed a complaint affidavit against the Senate secretary before the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged falsification of the Senate journal.

Unnamed “concerned employees” filed the complaint against Atty. Myra Marie Villarica which was received by the Ombudsman central records division on January 31, 2020.

They requested the Ombudsman to issue a preventive suspension and conduct a preliminary investigation and to eventually file cases against Villarica that will warrant her dismissal from service.

The complaint stemmed from the Senate session conducted on December 16, 2019 on Senate Bill No. 1074 entitled “An Act Increasing the Excise Tax on Alcohol Products, Heated Tobacco Products and Vapor Products” which seeks amendments to Republic Act No. 8424 or the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.

"Atty. Villarica did not read the title of Senate Bill No. 1074 for its third reading, thus what was made to be reflected int he senate journal are falsified and untruthful narration of facts," the employees said in the complaint.

They further said that the supposed act of Villarica was a clear act of tampering of official documents.

They said that Villarica violated Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code or falsification by public officer, employee or notary or ecclesiastic minister. She should also be held liable for the administrative offenses of falsification of official document and serious dishonesty.

"The controlling consideration is the public character of a document. In this case, the document in question is no less than the journal of the Senate of the Philippines, august body which fulfills its role as a check on government by scrutinizing bills, delegated legislation, government administration and government policy in general," the employees said.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri refuted the complainants' allegations and said that the Journal of the Senate dated December 16, 2019, was "in order."

"Without prejudice to whatever action the Office of the Ombudsman may take on the matter, considering the allegations came from unknown sources, the Senators affirm that the Journal of December 16, 2019, which the Senate Secretary certified as correct and which we, the Senators, approved in plenary on January 20, 2020, is in order," he said.

"Suffice it to say that the Senate has followed the Rules of the Senate in all its proceedings," he said.