A FORMER clerk of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Carcar City, southern Cebu, was found guilty of falsifying public documents yesterday and was sentenced to two to eight years in prison.
The court also fined Democrito Castañares P3,000.
Judge Ester Veloso of Regional Trial Court Branch 6, in her ruling, said it was clearly established that Castañares demanded money from an LTO client to process a license despite having no authority to do so on Sept. 17, 1997.
The complainant, Mervin Artiaga, said that when he visited the LTO office in Carcar that day to apply for a driver?s license, Castañares asked for an P800 processing fee and advised Artiaga to come back the following day to claim the license.
But for the next two days, his license was still unavailable, prompting him to pay Castañares a visit at the clerk?s home in the town of Sibonga.
Artiaga said it was there that Castañares handed him an official receipt, which would serve as a temporary license until Artiaga was issued the license card.
Artiaga said he wondered how the temporary license was issued when certain elements of the transaction were not complete yet. He noted that his picture was never taken for the license card.
Artiaga also said that his cousin, who previously also had transactions with Castañares, noted that the temporary license the clerk gave him was fake.
Castañares, in his defense, denied wrongdoing, saying he acts as a cashier for the LTO-Carcar office because that office only has few employees.
The temporary license issued to Artiaga had the signatures of three LTO-Carcar employees. One signature was by one ?Alita Cabildo.?
LTO-Carcar did have an employee by that name, but she clarified that she was now Alita Pulga after getting married.
She said she was already married by Sept. 17, 1997 ? the date the temporary was issued ? and had already been used to signing documents with the surname ?Pulga,? not ?Cabildo.?
Also, Pulga said that by Sept. 17, 1997, LTO-Carcar had ceased processing licenses, with all such activity centered at the LTO?s regional office in Cebu City, so no temporary licenses could be issued from Carcar.
Artiaga said he also checked later and saw that he had no records at LTO-Carcar. /REPORTER ADOR VINCENT MAYOL WITH A REPORT BY UP MASSCOM INTERN JESHELENE T. DIOLAN