“Raul Desembrana failed to exercise such prudence, caution and attention when he blindly followed his personal caprice and pursued his fancy of having the P80,000 SOP.”
By LHEALYN VICTORIA
The Office of the Ombudsman ordered the immediate dismissal from service of Raul Desembrana, the Quezon City assistant city prosecutor who was caught extorting money from one of the Morong 43 last year.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said Desembrana was found guilty of grave misconduct, and violation of Republic Act No. 6713 which prohibits public officials and employees from soliciting or accepting money, gifts or favor in connection with their job.
“For failing to observe due care and vigilance expected of him in the discharge of his duties, Desembrana committed a flagrant breach thereof, to the serious damage of the government and the public in general,” said the Ombudsman in its decision.
The Ombudsman also cancelled Desembrana’s civil service eligibility, ordered forfeiture of his retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
Desembrana was arrested in an entrapment operation after he asked P80,000 ($1,1790) from Dr. Alex Montes, one of the so-called “Morong 43,” in exchange for the dismissal of a case against him.
Montes and his son, Conner, are facing charges of unjust vexation, grave coercion and threat filed by retired Col. Reuben Espartinez, a delisted pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and a former chaplain of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Members of the National Bureau of Investigation conducted the entrapment operation at Serye Restaurant in Quezon City Memorial Circle, with lawyer Rey Cortez of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL). They caught Desembrana in possession of the envelope containing the marked money and the draft resolution.
In his counter-affidavit dated December 15, 2014, Desembrana claimed that the entrapment was meant to “damage his integrity and faithful government service.”
Desembrana claimed that it was lawyer Greg Fabros who went to his office and offered to draft a resolution and give P80,000 to settle the case against Montes but he refused the offer. He also said that he thought of filing a case against Fabros for corruption of public official, but he hesitated out of professional courtesy.
He claimed that he was not able to read the papers or open the envelope handed to him by Cortez at the Serye Restaurant.
Montes countered Desembrana’s claim saying it was the latter who offered to prepare the draft resolution and asked for P80, 000 as “Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).” He also stated that Desembrana browsed the draft resolution then opened the envelope that contained the marked money.
Juliet Gelacio-Mahilum, Forensic Chemist II of the NBI-Forensic Chemistry Division corroborated Montes’s assertion because Desembrana’s hands were tested positive with the presence of yellow fluorescent powder found in the marked money.
“When a public officer takes an oath of office, he or she binds himself or herself to faithfully perform the duties of the office and use reasonable skill and diligence, and to act primarily for the benefit of the public,” the Ombudsman resolution read.