Court convicts DOLE exec of direct bribery-A A +A
Saturday, August 17, 2013
THE court yesterday convicted a labor department official for soliciting and accepting P12,000 from a businessman in exchange for the dismissal of a labor case in 2011.
Judge Raphael Yrastorza Jr. of the Regional Trial Court Branch 14 found Wilfredo Wagas guilty of direct bribery, which is penalized under Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code.
Yrastorza sentenced Wagas to serve time in jail from five years, five months and 11
days to six years, eight months and 20 days of imprisonment.
The judge also ordered him to pay a fine of P36,000.
“Denial on the part of the accused is a shabby and weak way of escaping liability similar to alibi,” read Judge Yrastorza's eight-page judgment.
Salvador Solima, lawyer of Wagas, said they will file a motion for reconsideration.
The lawyer also said they might elevate the case to the Supreme Court if they cannot get a favorable ruling in the lower courts.
Businessman Johnie Lim, in his complaint, accused Wagas of demanding money from him in exchange for terminating an investigation against him for supposed labor law violations.
Lim owns the Body and Sole, a string of massage parlors in Cebu City.
The Department of Labor and Employment 7, through Wagas, was investigating Lim for labor law violations.
Lim alleged that Wagas, during a conference last April 1, 2011, said the he would be liable for over P600,000 if the investigation against him progresses.
But Wagas told the businessman there would be no complications because Lim’s employees declined to pursue their claims.
Lim said Wagas told him other companies he assisted in avoiding similar problems gave him gifts.
Wagas allegedly told Lim that if the gift is not more than P500,000, the businessman can forget about it.
Lim said he didn’t contact Wagas. But Wagas sent him a text message on April 18, saying he was preparing a draft resolution since Lim did not submit documents the latter promised to give him.
Lim said he replied by inviting Wagas to dinner.
Lim said he gave Wagas an envelope containing P5,000 at the end of their dinner. Wagas pocketed the amount.
But on April 27, Wagas sent Lim a text message saying the money “was not so compensating.”
Lim said they had another meeting last May 2.
Lim offered P5,000 more but the labor official asked for more. Lim said he had to increase the amount to P7,000.
Lim said he decided to refer the matter to the Department of Trade andIndustry, which later endorsed it to the police upon the recommendation of Wagas’ own boss at the labor department, Exequiel Sarcauga.
An entrapment was set and carried out on May 5, 2011.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 17, 2013.