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Arrest exposes ‘syndicate’ in CPO

By LITO RULONA
and NITZ ARANCON
Correspondents

THE arrest of a City Prosecutor’s Office employee on Friday exposed a “syndicate” specializing on fixing cases in exchange for payoffs, regional state prosecutor Jaime Umpa said over the weekend.

Umpa said this even as the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) prepares to press charges today against Genard Abejo, an administrative officer at the CPO and a resident of Abejo St., Barangay Puntod, this city.

Chief Insp. Melgar Devaras, CIDG chief here, said the police would charge Abejo with violation of RA 3019, specifically for direct bribery and robbery, extortion today.

Umpa said he has ordered an investigation into allegations that a number of prosecutors and their staff were into case fixing.

He said the matter has reached the attention of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, and he was ordered to dig deeper and identify the prosecutors who have allegedly been receiving bribes.

Umpa said the justice department would conduct a separate investigation in an effort to rid the CPO of corruption.

On Friday afternoon, the CIDG and Agora police officers arrested the 47-year old Abejo during an entrapment in a convenience store at a gas station in Gusa,

Devaras called Abejo a “middleman” and “bagman.”

Seized from the suspect was a five-page resolution on a case for rape in relation to child abuse. The document was signed on Oct. 14, 2016.

The CIDG said the document showed that it was signed by a senior assistant prosecutor but the signature has yet to be validated at presstime. It also showed the names of at least two other prosecutors but they have not signed it.

Police also seized from Abejo 10 P1,000 bills and pieces of paper that were allegedly used in the entrapment, a black cellphone, a red Honda City car with license plates PVO-133. They said the P1-thousand bills were placed on top of pieces of paper to make it appear that the bundle amounted to over P350 thousand.

Devaras said Abejo allegedly promised the parents of three rape suspects the dismissal of the case at the CPO in exchange for P400 thousand. Subsequently, he allegedly agreed to lower the amount to P350 thousand.

Umpa said, “I believe that this Abejo will not demand and collect money without the go-signal of prosecutors in a syndicate.”

Umpa said authorities were examining Abejo’s cellphone that allegedly has text messages from prosecutors.

“Naa didto ilang mga number sa prosecutors nga na-apil sa sindikato,” said Umpa.

He also alleged that days before the arrest, a group of prosecutors met with the complainants and respondents, and audio recordings were made.

Umpa said, “Nadungog didto sa recorded conversation nga kinsa’y naghatag og instruction. Nadungog didto nga didto ihatag kang Abejo ang kuwarta. Naay conspiracy ani. Sindikato kini nga dugay na nila gabuhaton diha.”

Umpa said that Abejo had a copy of a resolution was, by itself, suspect. “That is a clear indication that the prosecutor has  knowledge because Abejo has no access to the records that are considered confidential.”

He said the resolution was still considered a draft until it is reviewed and approved by the city prosecutor. He said only the city prosecutor could release that resolution.

“Bisag naa pa’y signature sa investigating prosecutor, draft pa kana, and then confidential,” Umpa said.

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