Abolishing Ombudsman office will open floodgates to corruption: Morales

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 23 2020 12:18 PM | Updated as of Sep 23 2020 02:21 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Abolishing the Office of the Ombudsman will open the floodgates to more corruption, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales warned Wednesday, alleging as well that the current chief graftbuster's policy is to dismiss complaints.

Current Ombudsman Samuel Martires earlier floated the idea of abolishing his office, saying investigators cannot gather enough evidence because complainants are too scared to testify. 

“To abolish the office will open floodgates to the commission of more corrupt activities. Allegedly, his policy is to dismiss complaints,” Carpio Morales said in a statement.

In a budget hearing Tuesday, Martires recommended that government agencies conduct their own separate anti-corruption programs and just abolish the Office of the Ombudsman as well as the Sandiganbayan.

Funds saved would then be used to build houses for the poor, he said.

"Para wala nang problema, magkanya-kanya na ang bawat ahensya ng isang programa sa anti-corruption. I-abolish na lang siguro ang Office of the Ombudsman. Para less rin ang gastos ng pamahalaan," he said. 

(Perhaps, so that there will be no problem anymore, each agency should just have its own anti-corruption program. Just abolish the Office of the Ombudsman so that the government will also have less expenses.)

"'Pag na-abolish ang Office of the Ombudsman, abolish rin ang Sandiganbayan siguro. Eh gamitin na lang ang perang ginagastos sa pagpapatayo ng pabahay sa ating mahihirap na kababayan," he said, referring to the anti-graft court that hears cases emanating from his office. 

(Once the Office of the Ombudsman is abolished, perhaps abolish the Sandiganbayan, too. Just use their funds to build houses for the poor.)

When Carpio Morales assumed the Ombudsman post, there was a backlog of some 19,000 cases. About half a year before she stepped down, this was reduced to about 6,000. Conviction rate also rose to 77 percent in 2017 from 41 percent in 2011.

As Ombudsman, Carpio Morales filed charges against former Vice President Jejomar Binay and son former Makati Mayor Junjun Binay. She also pursued Priority Development Assistance Fund scam cases involving former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and his chief of staff Gigi Reyes, former Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

ON SALN ISSUE

Carpio Morales also stressed the importance of documentary evidence such as government officials' Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) which the current Ombudsman has refused to release.

“Testimonial evidence is not the only evidence to build up a case,” Morales said.

Martires recently ordered that access to SALNs be restricted only to official investigations, by court order, or upon authority from officials themselves.

During Carpio Morales’ term, the Office of the Ombudsman regularly released copies of the SALNs of the President and the Vice President as well as heads of constitutional commissions upon request from the media.

After Martires shifted policy on this, Carpio Morales contradicted him, saying the SALN is “a good indicator whether or not public officials or employees might likely have enriched himself while in government.”

The Constitution mandates all public officials and employees, whether regular or under temporary status, to file a SALN.