PRC commissioner charged with bribery
PNoy appointee busted in entrapment operation
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Commissioner Alfredo Po of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) underwent inquest proceedings before the Department of Justice Thursday following his arrest in an entrapment operation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Wednesday afternoon.
During the operation, Po allegedly received marked money from a businessman he had targeted for "commissions."
Based on the affidavit-complaint of Atty. Ernesto Delos Santos, Po was demanding for a monthly "commission" of P42,800 per month for the lease of Delos Santos' CTLL Bldg. in Baguio City to the PRC. Po allegedly already received P126,000 from Delos Santos but recently asked for a one-time P394,000 "broker's commission."
During the entrapment operation undertaken by the complainant with the NBI Counter-terrorism Unit, Po allegedly received the marked money inside his PRC Office. He has been charged for direct bribery, violation of the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Po, assisted by counsel, waived his right to a full-blown preliminary investigation and agreed that the case be submitted for resolution.
Counter-terrorism Unit chief Supervising Agent Raul Manggera said the charges against Po are still strong even as the latter did not touch the marked money.
"The money was on top of his table. As long as it's there... it was recovered in his possession... " he said.
"Nagpunta doon ang complainant at nagbigay naman ng signal nang nabigay na ang pera... actually nagpasalamat pa ang Commissioner sa kanila," NBI spokesman Atty. Cecilio Zamora bared.
Delos Santos expressed relief for the "successful" entrapment operation.
"He wanted me to drop the money in his office at the PRC. He demeaned the position. He has no respect for his own office. His secretary would receive the money and give it to him in one instance," Delos Santos said.
Several individuals also "victimized" by Po have contacted him, Delos Santos claimed.
"The bottom line is -- money is always involved... They said maybe we can pool our resources together and they even make appointments with us to discuss also their respective cases," Delos Santos said.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima could not hide her disgust at the incident. She confirmed that several individuals intend to come forward and also file formal complaints against the public official.
"Mayroon nagsulputan iba pang complainants. In other words, we are probably looking at a notorious guy who is now a PRC Commissioner... nagde-demand daw ng P394,000 as commission, kaya siya commission-er..." De Lima said. "Tama lang na-entrap siya, tama lang na-inquest siya, nakasuhan sya. Itong goberyno natin ngayon, walang lugar sa mga ganyan."
De Lima informed President Aquino about the entrapment of his appointee. The President is disappointed, she said.
"It's really frustrating na may nakakalusot na mga officials na ganyan na nagpapa-appoint sa ating presidente. I immediately informed the President about it... Naturally, hindi katanggap-tanggap yan kay Presidente. I'm willing to bet, nagtatanong si Presidente: 'Paano to nakalusot? Hindi ba ito vinet? Sino ba nag-recommend nito?' It's really very frustrating for an appointing authority na may nakakalusot na na-appoint na hindi karapat dapat kasi notorious," De Lima said.
The justice chief said the DOJ and NBI will not hesitate to conduct more entrapment operations against erring public officials.
She stressed that public officials should not be demanding any "broker's commission" or any commission, for that matter, for public transactions and services rendered.
"Hindi pwede yan. Gobyerno yan. Anong brokers commission? He's a public official. Anong broker's commission, ha? Masyado naman ata yun. It's just really disappointing, really," De Lima said. "I say this also even [for] other government offices -- for as long as mayroon talaga kami ma-identify na ganyang mga officials and personnel ay we will do that (entrap). We will not mind doing entrapment operations para lang nababawasan ang gobyerno ng mga hindi karapat dapat."
De Lima said the NBI is also looking into Po's alleged involvement in board exam leakages for mechanical engineering after several individuals came forward with the allegation.
Sought for comment, Po and counsel refused to issue any statement.