MANILA — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday appealed to the media not to call the body created to investigate corruption in the entire government a “mega” task force.
“We will be happy to be referred to simply as the ‘Task Force Against Corruption,’” Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.
Guevarra said he preferred the Department of Justice (DOJ)-led task force to be called as such for “simplicity.”
“We do not want a name that is full of bluster, as we intend to work quietly but effectively,” he said.
“We have noted that the media has been referring to the DOJ-led task force as the ‘mega task force’, and we really appreciate the importance that the media has given to this inter-agency group,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar said the Task Force Against Corruption Operations Center met on Wednesday “to identify its functions, namely to act as the secretariat which receives information, complaint, and requests to investigate certain persons, acts or agencies.”
Guevarra will be its chairperson.
Villar said a committee that would screen the complaint and recommend appropriate action—whether to refer to a specific agency for further investigation, or for presentation to the core group of the task force—would be formed, although no names have been identified yet.
The evaluation committee, Guevarra added, “will also determine and recommend if a certain report or complaint deserves the immediate constitution of a special composite team to commence an in-depth investigation.”
Task force vs corruption adds burden to prosecutors?
The justice chief sought to allay concerns that the additional work of investigating corruption in the entire government will be an added burden to prosecutors.
“So far, we have enough state counsels and state prosecutors to handle all these extra tasks assigned to the DOJ. We’ll add a corps of young lawyers who will get their appointments as prosecution attorneys very soon. If need be, we’ll draw from the legal complement of agencies attached to the DOJ, other than the NBI,” he said.
Guevarra disclosed that the disposition rate of the National Prosecution Service has “remained high.”
He also promised to provide an initial or partial report by the end of the month on the review panel looking into police operations which resulted in deaths related to illegal drugs cases.
“Sadly, the pandemic has affected our mobility in examining case files located in various field stations of law enforcement agencies. As I see it, though, there may not be a need to look at each and every case, if a pattern is clearly visible upon examination of sufficient random samplings,” he said.