MANILA -- The Office of the Ombudsman filed a total of 969 criminal cases against erring government officials in 2013, the highest in 18 years since the anti-graft body filed 1,329 cases in 1995.
The figure, which shows a 145.32 percent increase from the cases filed the year before, is higher than the combined number of cases filed in 2011 (482) and 2012 (395).
Metro Manila, home to the most number of government agencies, topped all regions with 481 government officials charged, including 257 graft cases and 168 counts of estafa.
Region 2 (Cagayan Valley Region) was a distant second with 166 cases, followed by Region 6 (Western Visayas) with 120 cases.
At fourth and fifth places were Region 1 (Ilocos Region) and Region 3 (Central Luzon) with 95 and 42 cases, respectively.
Among the more prominent personalities charged in 2013 were members of former President Arroyo's Cabinet, including former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority director general Augusto Syjuco Jr. and former Agriculture Secretary Luis Ramon Lorenzo Jr.
Syjuco is facing six counts of graft involving allegations of overpricing in the acquisition of training equipment in 2007 totaling P302 million, and Lorenzo was named co-accused in a graft case for alleged conspiracy with former board officials of Quedan and Rural Credit Guarantee Corp. (Quedancor) concerning irregularities in the award of a P48.6-million supply contract to a livestock feed supplier.
Because of the large number of cases filed by the Ombudsman, the case load of the Sandiganbayan went up from 2,299 pending cases in 2012 to 2,862 cases as of December 31, 2013, including 75 cases revived during the year.
This is despite a 32.23 percent increase in the graft court's case disposal of for the year, with 480 cases resolved compared to 363 the previous year.
Out of 269 resolved cases in 2013, Ombudsman prosecutors scored 46 convictions against 61 acquittals. The rest had cases dismissed by the graft court or withdrawn by the prosecution.