Give Napoles benefit of the doubt - Ombudsman

By Niña Corpuz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 30 2013 05:00 PM | Updated as of Aug 31 2013 08:15 AM

MANILA – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Friday declined to comment as to whether she thought it was proper for the President to escort a fugitive, saying the public should give Janet Napoles the benefit of the doubt.

"Respecting propriety, I’m not going to comment on that," said Morales at the public governance forum in ADB.

"I’m reminded of that saying, when it's hot, you want it cold. When it's cold, you want it hot. Always wanting what is not…Ang Pilipino ‘pag may ginawang ganito mali ‘yan, mali ‘yan. If you did otherwise, mali ‘yan, mali ‘yan. Let's give Janet Napoles the benefit of the doubt. That she only trusted the President. Trust could be in light of her fear of being exterminated by those she might hit along the way. And probably because she herself knows that the President will see to it that everything will be fair," she said.

Morales entertained questions from everyone--foreigners, businessmen, media and other stake holders-- during the public governance forum held at the ADB auditorium.

The event is part of the Ombudsman's integrity caravan, which aims to communicate and engage the public and private sector on the various programs and projects of the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman was asked about their ongoing investigation into the P10 billion pork barrel scam.

Morales admitted they are having difficulties in fact-finding because they have not received any sworn statements from Benhur Luy even after they have already asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

"We decided to subpoena Ben Luy, that's the only way we can ask him to reduce his statement into writing. We also directed the NBI director to appear before the Ombudsman next week for clarificatory investigation. Otherwise, the perception of the public is that natutulog kami," said Morales.

Sandiganbayan report

Meanwhile, Morales reported that the Sandiganbayan rendered a guilty verdict in 54 out of the 118 criminal cases it decided in 2012, posting a conviction rate of around 45 percent, as compared to 33 percent the previous year.

The total criminal cases as of 2012 is 8,537, and a total of 3,271 criminal cases were disposed as of 2012.

Morales stressed that they discourage filing of cases that do not give them "leads."

"We don't need any complaint in order for the Ombudsman to initiate an investigation. But if you send a complaint and you remain anonymous, you have to give us the leads. If you do not give us leads, can you imagine when all Tom, Dick and Harry will file this and this. We will not be wasting time. There are other more important cases,” she said.

When it comes to criminal cases, Morales said complainants will have to make their complaint under oath; otherwise, "everyone will be charging everyone."

Morales also did not hide her resentment towards what she called "incompetent judges" which is the cause of delay.

"Judges should be really competent. I noticed the delay in the disposition of cases has to do with lack of competence. I mean it's a personal experience, if the case is difficult, you set it aside first and you come up with the easier cases but before you know it, you forget the cases you have set aside,” she said.

She added, "The JBC and I have been very vocal about it. They should see to it that all the best men should join the judiciary. If the best men have not been recruited, at least they should do something in improving or training the skills of judges!"

When it was suggested that she should be on Twitter, Morales said they are studying it, "If I'm in in social media everyone will call me matanda ka na, mag resign ka na! Hindi ako matanda, excuse me!"