The Sandiganbayan’s Second Division has convicted Ma. Lourdes Ramiro-Lopez, a former Chief of Mission of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), for making false entries in her Personal Data Sheet (PDS) in 2005.
Lopez was sentenced to two to eight years in prison and fined P5,000 for making it appear that she was a graduate of AB Broadcast Communication from Maryknoll College and the University of the Philippines (UP) in 1964 to 1970.
“She took advantage of her official position when she filled up her PDSs since she had the duty to make or prepare the PDSs, as it was for purpose of her promotion, hence she had a legal obligation to disclose the truth of the facts stated in the documents,” the court said and stressed that the PDSs were official/public documents.
“The falsity of the statements made by the accused in her PDSs, specifically her ‘degree received’ is confirmed by the testimonies of competent UP school officials who attested to the fact that per school records, accused did not graduate and her units cross-enrolled in Miriam College [formerly Maryknoll]were not credited,” it added.
In a PDS dated November 1, 1971, Lopez wrote “Maryknoll College, University of the Philippines, AB Mass Communication Speech and Drama, 1964-1969.”
In a PDS dated November 30, 1971, she wrote “Maryknoll College, University of the Philippines, AB in Broadcast Communication Minor in Speech and Drama, 1964-1966 1966-1970” in “Highest Grade Finished Received.”
And in a PDS dated October 11, 2005, she said that she earned a degree in AB Broadcast Communication from Maryknoll University and UP.
The court observed that Lopez never testified and merely presented witnesses who “failed to help her cause.”
While Randy Jay Canillo Solis, Secretary of the College of Mass Communication, showed a certification that Lopez completed her thesis requirements, the court pointed out that UP Associate Professor of Journalism Maria Theresa Manahan Jazmines who handled Thesis Writing and was a thesis adviser testified that the fact that Lopez completed her thesis is not equivalent to a degree.
“Good faith is a defense in falsification. Such defense should have been availed of by the accused if indeed she spoke and wrote the truth,” the decision said.
It was penned by Associate Justice Maria Cristina Cornejo and concurred in by Second Division Chairman Teresita Diaz-Baldos and Associate Justice Napoleon Inoturan.
She began her career with the DFA as a Foreign Service Staff Employee (FSEE) I at the Philippine Consulate in New York City and was promoted Foreign Service Officer (FSO) IV, FSO III, FSO II, FSO I, Counsellor and Chief of Mission (CM) II, CM I, DFA Assistant Secretary and Consul-General in Osaka, Japan.