FOR pretending to be a lawyer, Joel Balahan was arrested during an entrapment by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) last Saturday.
Thelma Dadula, 48, sought police assistance when Balahan, 49, asked for money to follow up on a case. Balahan told her he worked in a private law firm.
But when Dadula asked Atty. Richelle Rubi, the firm’s owner, Rubi said she did not know anything about Balahan’s transactions with her firm.
“He (Balahan) told us that it was only a misunderstanding,” SPO4 Willard Selibio told Sun.Star Cebu.
Rubi said in a phone interview that she met Balahan when he was a unit head of an insurance agency.
At first, she felt comfortable around Balahan because he seemed serious about his advocacy for an end to violence against women and children. He brought clients to Rubi’s firm.
Rubi said she was silent about the issues involving Balahan when he pretended to be an NBI agent and other lies he told to lure his clients because he showed sincerity in his practice. Until that time when he did not show himself at the office anymore and he could not be contacted.
That time, Dadula went to Rubi to ask about a case she’s facing. She said Rubi’s firm was the one used by Balahan in dealing with her.
Balahan allegedly asked for P20,000 for a motion of dismissal on the case pending before Regional Trial Court Branch 12.
But Rubi said, “Wala ko nagdawatan (I didn’t receive anything from Balahan).”
At 11:45 a.m. last Saturday, the CIDG operatives conducted the entrapment against Balahan. Also arrested was his companion Imelda Esclamado.
Two small sachets of shabu and an aluminum foil were seized from Balahan.
“He said it was only candy but when he double-checked, it was a foil and shabu,” Selibio said.
Refusing to be interviewed, Balahan said he will hire a lawyer.
He will face charges for estafa under Art. 315 par. 2 (a) and the violation of Sec. 11 and 12 of Art II of RA 9165.