MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has arrested a state prosecutor for allegedly extorting money from members of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA).
Assistant State Prosecutor Diosdado Solidum Jr., who is based at the Department of Justice central office in Manila, was arrested on Thursday evening for allegedly demanding P2.5 million in exchange for the dismissal of criminal case against 241 PALEA members.
Solidum was arrested in an entrapment operation.
PALEA coordinated with the NBI and Justice Secretary Leila De Lima in planning the operation.
“Yes, I authorized that entrapment. I’ve said it before and will say it again that I don’t mind undertaking such entrapment operations against our own people and suffering the consequent embarrassment for the institution, if only to send a clear and strong signal that corruption has no place in DOJ,” De Lima said in a text message sent Friday.
“I will not stop until the scalawags among the DOJ ranks, especially prosecutors, stop permanently their nefarious activities and/or they are all caught and punished. My inflexible mantra is – DOJ should be able to fulfill its mandate with zero corruption,” she added in her message.
The Office of the Ombudsman will conduct the inquest proceedings and then the case will be filed at the Sandiganbayan.
A total of 241 PALEA members are facing a case for violation of Section 81 (b) (5) of Republic Act No. 9497 or the “Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008.”
PALEA filed a petition for review with the Department of Justice after the Pasay City Prosecutors’ Office found probable cause to charge them in court.
In their petition for review, they said the case was in the nature of a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) suit in order to intimidate, harass, and stifle the rights of the respondents-appellants in the exercise of their constitutionally-protected rights.