Ombudsman candidates pledge fight vs graft

By Sheryll Mundo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 22 2011 03:23 PM | Updated as of Jun 23 2011 06:23 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Justice Undersecretary Leah Armamento and former Regional Trial Court judge Alfredo Agawa, the first candidates interviewed by members of the Judicial Bar Council for the Ombudsman post, pledged to regain the credibility of the office.
During her interview, Armamento said if she is chosen the next Ombudsman, she would come up with an inventory of pending cases and implement proper case management to reduce the backlog of cases at the agency.

She admitted that the hardest question she answered was in line with what strategy she would use to address graft and corruption.

"It was hard kasi you have to sit down and study details for you to come up with a strategy. Hindi pwede 'yong motherhood statement lang,” she said.

Armamento believes she is one of the best candidates for the position because she is apolitical.

"I have been a prosecutor for 19 years, and I am apolitical. I have no political affiliation whatsoever. If ever, ang political exercise lang na ginawa ko was to vote,” she added.

She is also confident that the Office of the Ombudsman would regain whatever credibility it lost on perception that former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is close to former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.

For his part, retired judge Agawa said he is still capable of being the next Ombudsman despite being 72 years old.

"I want to be the next Ombudsman because I want to help in the fight against corruption," he said.

The JBC will interview more than 20 for the post.