Sandiganbayan denies appeal of ex Bukidnon Register of Deeds, sentences Felicia up to 10 years

The Sandiganbayan affirmed its earlier ruling against former Bukidnon Register of Deeds Atty. Manuel Felicia of finding him guilty of graft, sentencing him of up to 10 years imprisonment and denying the latter’s appeal.

According to a Philippine News Agency article, in a decision dated June 6, 2023, the anti-graft court’s Sixth Division affirmed the 2020 ruling and found Atty. Manuel Felicia, 62, guilty of violation of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The decision stated that “the registration process was railroaded, so to speak” and the integrity of the system “was subverted in a high-handed manner by the very official who swore to preserve it,” adding that the former ROD “arbitrarily bypassed statutory safeguards, and leapfrogged tax collection to make for the illicit conveyance.”

In 2008, the Office of the Ombudsman consolidated complaints against Felicia filed by the local Bureau of Internal Revenue regional director and private individuals following anomalies in the issuance of transfer certificate of titles from deceased registered owners.

In September 2, 2020, Felicia was arrested in an entrapment operation led by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) at the Land Registration Authority Bukidnon Office along San Victores Street, Barangay 9, Malaybalay City following a complaint by Atty. Policarpio Inson Catalan, a resident of Barangay Salawagan, Municipality of Quezon, Bukidnon.

Catalan claimed that Felicia asked for cash for the immediate approval and release of a certificate of a land title. This, despite submitting all of the needed documents. Additionally, Catalan said that his friends and clients have also experienced the same practice but failed to report it out of fear.

Felicia posted a Php 90,000 cash bond the day after his arrest, with the help of his bondswoman, local radio reporter and defeated city council hopeful Annalou Tilanduca.

Felicia reportedly received marked money amounting to Php 5,000. CIDG, according to their online post, said that the entrapment money was recovered from the suspect. (With reports from Bukidnon Online special correspondent Mel B. Madera and the Philippine News Agency –

* Photo from CIDG

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