Adjudicator in extortion raps

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An adjudicator from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Adjudication Board-Region 12 (SOCCSKSARGEN) is facing charges before the Sandiganbayan for allegedly extorting money and fish from tenant-farmers in 2007.

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The regional adjudicator, Henry Gelacio, allegedly demanded and extorted money totaling P120,000 and a whole tuna fish from tenant-farmers on five separate occasions, in exchange for the favorable issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and injunction in an agrarian case filed by the tenant-farmers that was pending with him.

“[S]aid complainants were forced to sell their farm animals, tools and materials at extremely low prices, resulting in more difficult farming conditions and their children’s inability to continue attending school, thus causing undue injury to said complainants in the amount of no less than P120,000,” the charge sheet for graft stated.

Gelacio also allegedly caused undue injury the respon- dents in the agrarian case “whose rights and interests were compromised.”

Assistant Special Prosecutor Maria Janina Hidalgo of the Office of the Ombudsman accused Gelacio of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft Law and Section 7(d) of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

In the charge sheets, which were approved and signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Eduardito Garbo was named primary witness for the prosecution.

Garbo and the group of Miguel Egagamao, Marisa Egagamao, Bebiano Egagamao, Zenona Egagamao, Saturnina Egagamao, Dominador Egagamao, Lucia Egagamao, Celso Palado Sr., Aniceto Mejala, Jonathan Villegas, Herminigilda Garbo, Shirley Glodove and Norberto Malubay were the tenant-farmers from whom Gelacio allegedly extorted and accepted the money and tuna fish from.

Hidalgo recommended a P30,000 bail for the accused in the graft case, and P10,000 in the case for alleged violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

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