High-ranking prosecutor cleared in staff's alleged case fixing

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 19 2016 06:21 PM

MANILA - The Office of the Ombudsman has absolved a high-ranking state prosecutor in an administrative case involving an alleged case fixing incident by one of his office personnel.

In a seven-page decision penned by Graft Investigation & Prosecution Officer II Fatima Kristine J. Franco-Ilao, the Ombudsman ruled that it found no substantial evidence against Deputy State Prosecutor Severino Gaña, Jr. on the charges of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

The administrative complaint was filed in 2012 by Nuriza Jr. G. Abeja, a respondent in an adultery case before the Makati City Prosecutor's Office, through an endorsement by then Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.

"This office finds no substantial evidence to demonstrate respondent's use or misuse of authority, or transgression of some established rule of law nor a showing that respondent's actions in the context they were made tarnished the image and integrity of his public service," the decision read.

Mutya Santiago-Tobes, an office staff of Gaña, allegedly asked for P300,000 from Abeja in exchange for a favorable resolution in her case but later lowered her demand to P250,000. 

She was arrested in an entrapment operation conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), upon De Lima's orders.

In his defense, Gaña said he did not participate in the alleged illegal transaction between Tobes and Abeja. 

He said he even warned Abeja over the phone against corrupting his employees after learning that she spoke to a certain "Loiue" at the DOJ, who promised a favorable resolution in her case.

In exonerating Gaña, the Ombudsman said records "affirm respondent's allegation that he was not privy to the supposed transactions between complainant and Mutya."

"Even the complaint affidavit shows that the alleged transaction was between complainant and Mutya only… That respondent is alleged to have compelled complainant to pay the amount demanded by Mutya in exchange for a favorable resolution is unsubstantiated," the decision read. 

"This office finds no substantial evidence to demonstrate [Gaña's] use or misuse of authority, or transgression of some established rule of law nor a showing that [Gaña's] actions in the context they were made tarnished the image and integrity of his public office." 

Ilao's findings were reviewed by acting Director Anna Isabel Aurellano, and approved by Assistant Ombudsman Marilou Ancheta-Mejica and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.