TAN: Extend deadline for Ombudsman applicants

by Ira Pedrasa, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at May 11 2011 05:05 PM | Updated as of May 12 2011 01:05 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Transparency and Accountability Network (TAN) has asked the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to allow more time for candidates to submit their interest in the Ombudsman post.

In a letter, TAN executive director Vincent Lazatin said “we cannot and should not compromise or take shortcuts in considering candidates for the Ombudsman. While the need to fill the top post is urgent, this must be balanced with the long-term effect of the appointment.”

He said the May 16 deadline, prescribed in an announcement already issued last week, is too short a time for candidates to prepare their documentary requirements. The Constitution requires that the vacancy should be filled no later than 90 days after vacancy, or until August 4.

Former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez resigned on May 6, a few days before her trial at the Senate was due to start. Among others, she was blamed for the slow disposal of cases.

“The next Ombudsman will sit for seven years and will spell the difference between success and failure in the President’s fight against corruption,” Lazatin said.

He said “on balance, a few more weeks, which would allow for a deeper and wider search, is certainly worth ensuring that an Ombudsman of integrity, independence, probity and competence will lead the fight against corruption for the next 7 years.”

He also asked the JBC to painstakingly choose the right one for the post.

“The mandated requirements of independence and probity should not be considered ‘minimum’ requirements, but a very high standard by which applicants will be assessed,” he said.