Seven prosecutors in Cagayan De Oro implicated in ‘payola scam’

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Seven prosecutors in the City Prosecution Office (CPO) here might be implicated in an alleged ‘payola scam,’ Jaime Umpa, the Regional State Prosecutor in Northern Mindanao said.

He said that the result of the probe conducted by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) was submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) Monday.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre has ordered the CPO to fast track the probe involving the city prosecutors who reportedly received payola (grease money) from clients facing criminal charges here, Umpa said.

Umpa has not released the names of the prosecutors, but expressed the apprehension that four of the seven city prosecutors could be indicted in the payola scandal.

“I beg the indulgence of the press for not releasing the names of the city prosecutors involved in the case until the proper charges were filed against them in court,” Umpa said.

Umpa said that the CIDG has conducted the probe after an employee of the CPO here was nabbed during an entrapment operation in exchanged for the dismissal of a rape case with the CPO here.

According to Umpa, the CIDG operatives also alleged that they had seized a five-page resolution purportedly signed by one of the three prosecutors that dismissed the complaint.

He said that the CIDG submitted the findings after the investigators extracted various text messages and communication from the mobile phone of the CPO employee.

Umpa said that there were conversations on the mobile phone, which reportedly involved three or four city prosecutors who allegedly gave instructions to the CPO employee about the details of the alleged transactions.

The CIDG arrested Genard Abejo, 49, employed as the administrative officer at the CPO and a resident of Abejo St. Barangay Puntod, this city, during an entrapment operation in the village of Gusa early this month.

Insp. Melgar Devaras, CIDG-Northern Mindanao deputy chief, said that the operatives recovered from Abejo the marked money comprising 10 pieces of PHP 1,000 bills, mobile phone, and PHP 350,000 fake money used as “decoy” payment.

Devaras said that Abejo allegedly promised the parents of three rape suspects the dismissal of the case at the CPO in exchange for PhP 400,000. As further alleged, Bejo subsequently agreed to lower the amount to PhP 350,000.