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A starter guide for the new Ombudsman

By NEWSBREAK CONTRIBUTOR

By a former Ombudsman official*

The new ombudsman would certainly be dealing with a lot of difficulties and great challenges. What is definite is that he or she must be ready to review a roomful of cases awaiting his/her final approval.

Things to do:

1. Police the ranks. Remove or neutralize the bad apples as this would signal sincerity in the leadership. With reports of corruption and inefficiency in the top management, and probably in the case of the former ombudsman (as enumerated in the articles of impeachment), there is great probability that corrupt activities have cascaded down to the lower levels. Doubts have been raised on how the following cases had been handled:

• Plea bargain agreement with Gen. Carlos Garcia
• Fertilizer fund scam
• Mega pacific case
• Hernando “Nani” Perez case
• NBN-ZTE deal
• Euro generals

2. Assistant Ombudsmans and directors may be transferred to the Office of the Special Prosecutor to prosecute small cases thus lighten the loads of other prosecutors handling sensitive cases.

3. Appoint new directors or GIPOs (Graft Investigation Pro Officer) to be later on designated as acting AOs and acting directors vice those transferred to the OSP

4. Strategize and focus to speed up the disposition of cases. Make an assessment of the current workload and an inventory of all existing cases per investigator/GIPO/prosecutor, per bureau, and per office.

5. Hire a number of consultants to review cases requiring Ombudsman’s approval in order to reduce the workload to a manageable level. Assess how the office can cope with the increasing number of cases being handled by the investigators/PI lawyers/ prosecutors, then, retool.

6. Hire new investigators and lawyers. Provide adequate orientation and training

7. Check if there are missing cases. Compare with the records at the records unit.

8. Classify the cases involving high ranking or low ranking officers, whether they’re high profile or not, and according to status.
a. Resolution/decision/report awaiting final approval
b. Submitted for resolution/decision/report writing
c. Under investigation/prosecution

9. Prioritize actions. Dispose first of cases requiring final action/approval. If necessary, give back to the deputy ombudsman, special prosecutor or assistant ombudsmen the authority to take final action.

10. Improve the quality of cases being brought for adjudication and prosecution to increase conviction rates
a. Establish common standards among investigators, PI lawyers and prosecutors on building up cases
b. Set up a system where they could provide assistance to one another and could have proper coordination
c. Establish closer linkages with other government agencies which could be good sources of information such as the Commission on Audit, Civil Service Commission, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Anti-Money Laundering Council, Securities and Exchange Commission, etc.

11. Review best practices such as conduct of lifestyle checks, involvement of CSOs and NGOs in the monitoring and reporting of corrupt activities in the government and intensification of corruption prevention activities among different government agencies

Merceditas Gutierrez centralized authority and took final action on all decisions, resolutions and reports involving cases of whatever nature. Undoubtedly, the new ombudsman has to address with dispatch the many pending cases for final disposal.

He/she must be courageous enough to ensure that heads would roll. After conducting an honest and fair assessment of the people in the organization, most especially, those who occupy managerial or supervisory positions, the new ombudsman will be able to determine who could be assets or liabilities to the organization.

More than the image that also needs to be greatly improved, the office must likewise work hard to regain the trust and confidence of the vigilant citizenry and civil society as their full support and cooperation is vital in the anti-corruption campaign.

As an ice-breaker, the newly appointed ombudsman must exhaust all available remedies to bring back Gen. Carlos Garcia to jail without trampling on the right of the general against double jeopardy. But, he/she would have a serious dilemma as the special prosecutor and her prosecutorial staff are on the other side of the fence.

Next in the agenda must be the filing of forfeiture case against Hernando “Nani” Perez which the previous leadership decided to hold in abeyance. Material documents on this case are more than sufficient to establish the amassing of wealth disproportionate to his legitimate sources of income.

Furthermore, while the completion of the investigation may still take a while, the new advocate must also come out

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with a comprehensive plan on how the investigation on the fertilizer fund scam could be completed without much delay. The good thing in the present investigation is that it would now be very easy to get access to important documents, much different from what was experienced before. The money trail could be easily established and the testimonies of vital witnesses could now be secured.

It is likewise a must for the new ombudsman to carefully look into the Comelec-Mega Pacific case and take the necessary actions. He/she may also consider looking into the fact that the government continues to spend substantial amount of money to preserve the computers which in the first place could have been avoided.

The actions of the new ombudsman on the foregoing cases would serve as his/her baptism of fire. These would spell the degree of his/her sincerity to stamp out corruption. These would also be the gauge for the civil society and the public in general in deciding whether to give the new ombudsman their full trust and support.

 

 

* The author requested anonymity so that he could write freely.

CATEGORY: Commentary
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  1. Jesus Mary Hao says:

    Hahahahahahaha! Nakakatawa naman ito.. Nagbigay ng “to-do list” ang bumabang Ombudsman sa papaupo pa lang na Ombudsman.. Parang ang ibig ipahiwatig nito ay, “Gawin mo ang mga bagay at mga responsibilidad ko na kung di ko man natapos ay talagang hindi ko nagawa!” Hahahahahahahaha!

  2. steve salonga says:

    we really needed more of these “confidential” briefings at the start of the new administration. In fact, this is one initiative that civil society should pursue in the form of “white papers” by imminent citizens. thank him/her for us please.

    apparently the ombudsman’s office must be run like a good law office, not just another government bureau. In fact, in its original concept it was an independent office completely separated from the three pillars of government. It deserved its own budget and free from interference. Instead, it works and feels like a subset of the Malacanan legal office.

    This makes watching the transition there a more accurate and substantial assessment. Good luck Newsbreak!

  3. GEMMA BAGAYAUA-MENDOZA says:

    Thanks Steve!

  4. GEMMA BAGAYAUA-MENDOZA says:

    Hi Jesus,

    Just to clarify, this person is a former official at the office of the Ombudsman, NOT a former Ombudsman. =)

  5. Jesus Mary Hao says:

    Thanks for the correction. :)

  6. Rosauro Feliciano says:

    In our country when a person has reached the pinnacle of his/her career in public office, such a person will do the best to take advantage under any circumstance to amass wealth. Wealth in the billion of pesos amassed through illegal means with impunity is a sure safety net to shield that person in the event that that relevant person will be investigated about how he/she could afford to own questionable properties; he or she has nothing to worry because money will buy justice through corruptions. This situation is customarily happening in our country because of many reasons, one is grafts and corruptions. While the poor citizenry are languishing in filthy dwelling places in the streets of Manila, Cebu and other Philippine cities, the “privileged elected officials” are literally enjoying lavish life-style in 5 stars hotel in places like NY. Surely the time will come for them to pay in kind; their souls are already residing in hell.

  7. Ombudsman investigator says:

    Being an insider (for barely 3 years), i can’t help but agree on some of the recommendations of the FORMER Ombudsman official. Former Ombudsman Gutierrez WAS a good leader, she’s generous, amiable (as most OMB employee describe her), her only mistake really is her being TOO TRusting. She trusted an incompetent, scheming, manipulative person. This fellow has been her “shadow” all throughout her years in the public service. This fellow caused the promotion of his closest buddies and drink buddies in the OMB. You can ask the Assistant Ombudsmen of the Field Investigation Office (FIO)about this, they themselves are beneficiaries. Or the lady director of that office, who leap frogged to the position whereas her only qualification is her being the girlfriend of the bestfriend of the fellow close to Gutierrez. BIG deal. The people at the FIO should also be shuffled, majority of the so-called “team leaders” in that office are non-lawyers, worse, most are not even law graduates. their only qualification? they are associated with the fellow close to Gutierrez. the name of this fellow? … (deleted per request) he even left OMB a big mess. he signed resolutions and decisions drafted as far back as 2006, “snow pake” style. he created a complete mess when he caused the dismissal or suspension of elected officials whose cases where decided 2 elections ago. he pasted his name in the resolutions inplace of the ombudsman’s name. why? he literally slept on these cases, perhaps waiting for the respondents to make an “offer”. … (Deleted per request) SHOULD be made to pay for this transgressions. the charges levied against him are true, despite his resignation, the criminal and administrative cases should proceed. He is the devil incarnate, Lucifer personified.

  8. omb investigator says:

    PLEASE omit the name I previously mentioned in my comment, I fear reprisal from the concerned person.I was told that the guy has connections and can trace my IP address and can pressure people here at the OMB to “harrass” me any which way possible, apparently he already did this in the past. I am not taking back what I have previously said in my comment because its the truth,its not a secret here at the OMB..what I really fear is losing my job because of my comment, I have a family to feed,you know. Thank you so much and I hope you’ll heed my please. More power and please please don’t publish this last comment, PLEASE omit the name I mentioned in my previous comment. More power!

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