Former labor arbiter found guilty of extortion

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 Apr) – A former labor arbiter of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) was found by the Sandiganbayan guilty of extorting P20,000 from an ice plant operator in exchange for a dismissal of a case.

But Amado Solamo, the accused, was given 15 days to file his motion for reconsideration to ask Presiding Justice Alexander Gesmundo to reverse the decision.

He also gained temporary liberty by posting  the P40,000 bail bond.

Solamo was a former arbiter based in Cagayan de Oro City.

“It is clear the accused committed direct bribery defined and penalized under the second paragraph of Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code,” Gesmundo said in his27-page decision.

Solamo has been sentenced to a minimum of one year to a maximum of three years imprisonment and a fine of P30,000. He will also suffer special temporary disqualification.

Ferdinand Labog, the prosecutor who handled the case, said all evidences were presented, including testimonies from the agents of the National Bureau of Investigation.

Solamo became the subject of an entrapment operation in March 2004.

“It’s difficult to reverse the decision because the evidence is strong,” said Labog, who expressed elation for having prosecuted a high-ranking public official.

Solamo’s case stemmed from an illegal dismissal case filed by driver Zenon Cloma against M.B. Guinez Enterprises (MBGE), owner and operator of the Davao City Ice Plant.

As the prosecutor assigned to the case, Solamo solicited P20,000 from MBGE representative Pablito Reginio in order to render a decision in favor of the company. He eventually accepted marked money during the entrapment operation set up by NBI agents.

Reginio testified that On Jan. 22, 2004, he was told by the company’s lawyer to check on the case filed against them by Cloma. Reginio added that Solamo told him he can dismiss the case in exchange for P20,000.

“Alam mo, yong case ni Cloma madidismiss yon, kayo na lang bahala sa akin. Tingnan nyo yung case ni Alibango, malaki ang naiaward ko sa complainant dahil  hindi kayo nagpakita sa akin,” Solamo was qouted as telling Reginio.

But management rejected the offer and instead reported it to the NBI.

Solamo, in his defense, said he was framed up by Reginio since MBGE was not happy with his decision on another case. (MindaNews)