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DOJ prosecutor convicted for extortion try in Palea case

/ 05:35 PM October 01, 2017

The Sandiganbayan has sentenced a state prosecutor to imprisonment of one-and-a-half years to nine years for trying to extort money from the members of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (Palea) in 2013.

In a 29-page decision, the court’s First Division found Assistant State Prosecutor Diosdado Solidum Jr. of the Department of Justice guilty of one count each of violating the Code of the Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code.

Besides the prison penalties, Solidum was also ordered to pay a P2.4-million fine.

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Solidum was arrested on Aug. 8, 2013, in an entrapment operation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). He was accused of soliciting P2.5 million, later lowered to P1.2 million, from Palea union members in exchange for reversing an unfavorable resolution by the investigating prosecutor.

At the time, Solidum was handling the petition of Palea challenging the Pasay City Prosecutors Office’s finding of probable cause to file charges for violation of Section 81 (b) (5) of the Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008 (Republic Act No. 9497) against 241 union members.

In their petition for review, Palea 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.

The court gave weight to the “categorical and straightforward” testimonies of the prosecution witnesses that Solidum called the Dellosa, Mendoza, Bag-ao & Manuel Law Office to set up a meeting, and he negotiated the amount with lawyer Joeven Dellosa through text messaging.

The court gave credence to the testimonies of NBI agents Roderick Aquino and Emmanuel Edwin Roble, as corroborated by Dellosa and union leader Gerardo Rivera, regarding the sting where Solidum accepted the installment of P250,000 in marked money.

The court also noted Solidum failed to show that Palea or its counsels were even aware that he handled the DOJ petition for review prior to the solicitation.

“Significantly, the accused failed to show any plausible reason or ill motive on the part of the witnesses to falsely incriminate him in such a serious crime,” read the decision.

“Where there is nothing to indicate that the witnesses for the prosecution were moved by improper motives, the presumption is that they were not so moved, and that their testimony is entitled to full faith and credit,” it added.

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Efren N. de la Cruz and concurred in by Associate Justices Geraldine Faith A. Econg and Edgardo M. Caldona.

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TAGS: Diosdado Solidum Jr., extortion case, Joeven Dellosa, NBI, PALEA case, Sandiganbayan
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