Ombudsman files charges vs Extorting DOJ Prosecutor

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Ombudsman PhilippinesMANILA, Philippines – The Ombudsman filed before the Sandiganbayan on Monday, August 12, criminal charges against a senior prosecutor of the Department of Justice (DOJ) who was caught attempting to extort from airline employees. In an 8-page resolution, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales found probable cause to indict Assistant State Prosecutor III Diosdado Bernales Solidum Jr after he was caught extorting P2.5 million from members of

the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) in an entrapment operation last August 8.Solidum has been charged for direct bribery, in violation of aArticle 210 of the Revised Penal Code, and for violating Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. PALEA members are facing charges for violation of the Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008, arising from their work stoppage in September 2011. They brought their case to the DOJ for review after the Pasay City Prosecutors Office found probable cause to criminally charge 241 PALEA members. The case was assigned to Solidum.According to records, Solidum initially demanded P10,000 from each PALEA respondent in exchange for the dismissal of the charges. The amount demanded was equivalent to around P2.5 million. Complainant Gerardo Rivera, PALEA president, said Solidum asked for a July 29, 2013, meeting in Quezon City, where Solidum offered to reverse earlier decisions in favor of PALEA but that it would cost them.

Rivera then reported the matter to the DOJ Sec Leila de Lima, who in turn directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) conduct an entrapment operation. Solidum was arrested evening of August 8 in the vicinity of Spring Deer Restaurant along Timog Avenue in Quezon City. Solidum was caught in the act of receiving the envelope containing the marked money. The Ombudsman’s resolution said: “As Assistant State Prosecutor of the [DOJ], respondent [Solidum] is duty bound to decide or resolve all cases assigned to him based on merits.”“All the elements of the offense charged are present” and “respondent…is a public officer discharging his official functions,” it added.