DOJ aide nabbed for extortionBy Nancy C. Carvajal
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Charges of robbery and extortion have been filed against the chief of staff of a senior prosecutor at the Department of Justice (DOJ) after she was caught receiving marked money from a former beauty queen who was the respondent in an adultery case.
Cecilio Zamora, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) spokesperson, said that Mutya Santiago, the chief of staff of Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Silverio Gaña, was arrested in the DOJ official’s office at the ground floor of the justice building on Taft Avenue, Manila, on Friday afternoon.
NBI agents who conducted the operation found the P150,000 in cash given by the complainant, former Binibining Pilipinas titleholder Nuriza Abeja, in a white envelope on one of the executive chairs in Gaña’s office based on the report submitted by NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
According to Zamora, the state prosecutor was not in his office at that time they conducted the operation. He added that at the moment, they had no evidence linking him to his staffer’s alleged extortion activities although an investigation was still ongoing.
Santiago, on the other hand, was released after she posted bail of P100,000.
The entrapment operation against her was hatched after Abeja asked for help from De Lima who in turn ordered the NBI to act on her complaint.
Based on NBI documents, Abeja’s husband filed a petition for review in the DOJ after a Makati prosecutor dismissed the adultery case he filed against his ex-wife.
The case has been pending in Gaña’s office for a year.
Abeja said in her statement to the NBI that in July, Santiago contacted her and asked her for P300,000 in exchange for a favorable decision on her case.
She added that from time to time, Santiago’s cohort—a man who had identified himself only as Louie—would text her to press Santiago’s demand.
Abeja said she finally decided to pay up after she received a call from someone who claimed he was Gaña.
According to the man, she should pay Santiago because the latter was being harassed by people who wanted their share of the money after making sure that her (Abeja) case would be resolved in her favor.
Abeja said she eventually convinced Santiago to bring down the amount to P250,000 and let her pay it on a staggered basis.