DOJ: Mega task force vs corruption to start investigation with COA reports, media exposés

Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 04 2020 03:06 PM

ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - The mega task force against corruption led by the Department of Justice will meet Wednesday to set up its secretariat and discuss procedure on how to receive and process reports on wrongdoing from the public.

“Sa ngayon, ang Secretary of Justice nagbigay ng direktiba sa secretariat na mag-organisa muna, 'yun ang unang step para makausad na itong mega task force para mabigyan din namin ng direksiyon ang publiko kung saan magre-report,” said DOJ spokesperson Undersecretary Emmeline Villar.

(For now, the directive of the Secretary of Justice is to organize the secretariat as a first step for the mega task force to move forward and so that we could also give direction to the public on where to report.)

Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the DOJ to investigate the entire government for corruption until the end of his term in 2022. The order gives the DOJ the power to decide what allegations to investigate and to work with other agencies.
 
The DOJ has identified embattled state insurer PhilHealth, the Bureau of Customs, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Land Registration Authority, and the Department of Public Works and Highways as the state agencies it would likely prioritize to investigate.

“Titingnan na din po ng secretariat o operations center ang mga existing COA (Commission on Audit) reports at mga investigative pieces na nagawa ng media in the past tungkol sa mga alegasyon ng korapsiyon at 'yun po muna ang uunahing tingnan ng operation center o secretariat ng task force para malaman kung ano 'yung mga uunahin naming iimbestigahan,” she said during the Laging Handa virtual press briefing.

(We will look into existing COA reports and past investigative pieces done by media about allegations of corruption for the task force to determine what to investigate first.)

The DOJ spokesperson is the wife of Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, whose agency is under investigation. She said she is not going to be part of any panel investigating the DPWH. 

“Ako ang tagapagsalita kaya po kunwari may katanungan tugkol sa DPWH, iba na lang po siguro ang sasagot ng mga katanungan na 'yun kung sakaling umusad na yung imbestigasyon,” she said.

(I am the spokesperson and if for instance there's a question about the DPWH, someone else will answer in case the investigation moves forward.)

Meanwhile, Villar said the public can send tips, complaints and other information related to corruption activities in government. They could also be called in as witnesses should a case be filed against the subject of their complaint. 

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She added that complainants who fear for their safety can avail of the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in an earlier report that lawmakers and members of other government branches will be investigated along with the executive department if they are involved in criminal or corrupt acts.