MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice-led task force against corruption is eyeing deputizing state prosecutors and state auditors as resident ombudsmen in government agencies prone to anomalies.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters on Friday during the last meeting of the task force, the Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Audit and DOJ “agreed to explore further the idea of deputizing DOJ prosecutors and COA auditors as resident ombudsmen in certain corruption-prone agencies.”
The Ombudsman, COA and the Commission on Civil Service, although not part of the main task force, are invited to work with the panel, with due consideration to their independence as constitutional bodies, in investigation.
Guevarra said that the idea to deputize state prosecutors and auditors came from Ombudsman Samuel Martires himself.
“He (Martires) explained that his office did not have enough manpower to revive the resident ombudsmen of the past on their part,” the DOJ chief said. He added that they will further refine the proposal.
The Ombudsman, an anti-corruption body, has motu propio powers or can launch criminal and administrative investigations into alleged anomalies in the government.
Meanwhile paramaters for the task force’s operations center for receiving of complaints or tips from the public has been approved by the task force, Guevarra said.
He added that guidelines on dealing with complaints from other branches of government and local government units.
“With the approval of guidelines/parameters, the [task force against corruption] operations center is expected to process complaints and reports on corruption more efficiently,” Guevarra added.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he has “no business investigating congressmen” accused of corruption as they are from a different branch of government. This, despite the president himself releasing a “narco list” in 2016 which included even judges and lawmakers.
Guevarra insisted that if the task force investigation showed that officials outside the executive department are liable, then they will still be included in the complaint.
DOJ Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar said earlier this week that the task force has so far received 98 complaints. — Kristine Joy Patag
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