Ombudsman junks 3 graft charges vs former Iloilo City civil registrar

By Rjay Castor

The Ombudsman-Visayas dismissed all three separate complaints filed by city hall employees against former Iloilo City Civil Registrar Romeo Caesar L. Manikan Jr.

In office order/resolutions, the Ombudsman resolved to junk the criminal complaints for violations of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 against Manikan for lack of probable cause.

The complainants were Civil Registrar employees namely Jose E. Pisueña Jr., Araceli N. Villavincencio, and Cherie Jover Ampig.

Pisueña and Villavincencio alleged Manikan to have violated Section 3 (e) of the Republic Act (RA) No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for “unreasonably refusing to sign” their Daily Time Records (DTR) for the month of July 2020.

Villavincencio in her judicial affidavit said that her attendance logbook, alongside two other city hall employees, could not be found. The prosecution, however, argued that in order to support the claim, evidence must be provided, which Villavincencio failed to present.

Ampig, on the other hand, filed a partial motion for consideration relative to her graft case against Manikan which was also dismissed by the Ombudsman in an order dated March 28, 2022. The complaint was junked for lack of probable cause.

“For lack of jurisdiction and for being a duplication, the administrative case for misconduct against (Manikan) is likewise dismissed,” the dispositive portion of the resolution further read.

The prosecution explained that they found no cogent reason to alter, modify, or reverse the assailed joint resolution.

Ampig was previously indicted by the Ombudsman for alleged falsification of public documents relative to her DTR. The complaint was filed by Manikan in September 2020.

In a statement, Manikan maintained that “I have stood by what is right and the dismissals of their complaint against me [are] beyond proof that I am the one on the right path.”

“We have a just God. No act with evil intentions will always win,” he added.

Manikan also emphasized that he harbors no ill feelings against his complainants, that it is not his character as his friends can attest.

“I humbly request that they seek forgiveness [from] the Lord so they may have peace with their conscience,” he added.

This is not the first time Manikan faced administrative and criminal complaints.

Christy Joy Sandoval and Michael Cabales Solimal accused Manikan of violation of Section 3(h) of the RA 3019 and filed an administrative complaint for Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, which the cases were eventually dismissed.

Sandoval filed a complaint regarding her husband’s birth certificate correction request. She claimed that Manikan charged an exorbitant fee of P14,500 for the processing.

Solimal, on the other hand, claimed that Manikan received P5,000 from a certain Jocelyn Espinosa for the issuance of a birth certificate, which exceeded the city government’s prescribed fee.

He added that Manikan demanded an upfront payment of P300 from all couples applying for marriage licenses to waive the tree planting and marriage counseling seminar requirements.