Ombudsman to prosecute own prober for extortion
Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - June 22, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Lawyers at the Office of the Ombudsman are preparing to prosecute one of their colleagues, a former senior graft investigator who is facing criminal charges for allegedly attempting to extort money from a ranking official of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

Prosecutors informed Branch 49 of the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court yesterday that they will be handling the case of associate graft investigation officer (AGIO) III Wilger Urmaza.

STAR sources said Manila Police District operatives arrested Urmaza at his house on Masola street in Barangay Masambong, San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City on June 18 based on an arrest warrant issued the same day.

Urmaza, who is also facing graft charges, was ordered dismissed from government service in December 2012 after the Office of the Ombudsman found him guilty of the administrative offense of serious dishonesty.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, acting on the recommendations of Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon and Internal Affairs Board chairman Gerard Mosquera, also ordered the forfeiture of his retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification from re-employment in government.

The criminal cases against Urmaza stemmed from a complaint filed by lawyer Remedios Espinosa, director of the BOC’s import assessment service, two years ago.

Records show that Urmaza tried to extort P500,000 from the victim in August 2011 in exchange for the favorable resolution of a case at the Office of the Ombudsman, which turned out to have already been dismissed for lack of evidence.

The accused allegedly visited Espinosa at the BOC and warned her that the case could lead to a lifestyle check.

When Espinosa did not give in to his demand, Urmaza – then assigned at the Field Investigation Office of the Office of the Ombudsman – reduced the amount to P50,000.

The BOC official still did not give in to the demand and filed a criminal complaint against the graft investigator, with an affidavit detailing the alleged extortion attempt.

Ombudsman lawyers have been authorized by the Manila court to prosecute the cases against Urmaza, who has also been found guilty of the administrative offenses of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

BARANGAY MASAMBONG BUREAU OF CUSTOMS DEPUTY OMBUDSMAN FIELD INVESTIGATION OFFICE OF THE OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN GERARD MOSQUERA LUZON AND INTERNAL AFFAIRS BOARD MANILA METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT MANILA POLICE DISTRICT OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN OMBUDSMAN URMAZA
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