Oct 302013
The Office of the Ombudsman has suspended the senior prosecutor of the Department of Justice accused of extorting P2.5 million from members of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA)

National Prosecution Service chief Prosecutor General Claro Arellano confirmed that Assistant State Prosecutor III Diosdado Bernales Solidum Jr. has been suspended pending the resolution of his case pending with the Ombudsman.

“Pros. Solidum is placed under preventive suspension without pay for a period which shall continue until the case is terminated but shall not however exceed six months,” Arellano told GMA News Online on Wednesday.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, in August, ordered the filing of criminal charges against Solidum for direct bribery and for violation of Section 7(d) in relation to Section 11 of Republic Act  6713 (Code  of  Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

According to the Ombudsman, Solidum demanded P10,000 each from the more than 200 PALEA members or equal to almost P2.5 million in exchange for the dropping of the pending charges against them.

A complaint for violation of Section 81(b)(5) of Republic Act 9497 the Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008 has earlier been filed with the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office against 241 PALEA members.

Morales said the money being demanded later went down to P1.2 million payable in installment.

PALEA president and complainant Gerardo Rivera said Solidum had request a meeting last July 29 in Quezon City, in which the prosecutor said having the union members’ case reversed would entail costs.

“Rivera replied that the matter was already in the judicial dispute  resolution where it will be  hopefully resolved in their favor. Rivera narrated that Solidum reminded that ‘dalawang beses na kayo natalo’ and assured him that he can reverse the decision at the earlier stated amount,” the Ombudsman said in a statement.

Rivera had earlier separately asked the DOJ in an 11-page complaint-affidavit to dismiss Solidum from service and, pending the resolution of his complaint, place him under preventive suspension.

Rivera accused Solidum of violating “The Code of Conduct for Prosecutors,” and committing offenses as defined under the Uniform Rules in Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, and The Administrative Code of 1987.

These offenses were for grave misconduct, and for soliciting or accepting directly any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value, in the course of his official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or transaction which may be affected by the functions of his office.

Solidum was arrested on August 8 in an entrapment operation conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Quezon City.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima earlier condemned the extortion try and said she would not tolerate such action. Mark Merueñas/KBK, GMA News

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