Deployment of resident ombudsmen to graft-prone agencies to start this month — DOJ

Robie de Guzman   •   September 9, 2021   •   184

MANILA, Philippines — The deployment of prosecutors and state auditors who will serve as resident ombudsmen to government agencies prone to corruption is expected to begin this month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Thursday.

This is after the DOJ, together with the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Office of the Ombudsman, signed a memorandum of agreement that would deputize DOJ prosecutors and COA auditors as resident ombudsmen.

Their tasks include the following:

  • Bring to host government agencies the Ombudsman’s frontline services by acting on complaints and reports against officials and employees of the said agencies
  • Serve as watchdogs and implementors or corruption prevention program
  • Monitor compliance with existing anti-graft laws and regulations

“The MOA synergizes the investigatory powers of the Office of the Ombudsman, DOJ, and COA in the implementation of anti-corruption measures, this aiding the OMB and the COA in carrying out their respective mandates while also serving as a mechanism for the DOJ to attain the objectives of the Task Force Against Corruption,” the DOJ said in a statement.

“The OMB, COA, and DOH shall jointly enter into agreements with partner agencies regarding the terms of deployment of the resident Ombudsmen, which is expected to start rolling this month,” it added.

This development comes after COA included in its report alleged “deficiencies” in the Department of Health’s use of COVID-19 funds.

The issue has prompted Congressional hearings on the utilization of DOH’s funds for COVID-19 response.

DOJ to issue immigration lookout bulletin order against Michael Yang

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 14, 2021

Michael Yang

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice will issue an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) against former presidential adviser Michael Yang on Tuesday, Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced.

This is in response to the request of Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Senator Richard Gordon to place Yang under an immigration watchlist.

Gordon on Monday (September 13) wrote to DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra to seek issuance of an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) against Yang.

A similar request was previously submitted to the DOJ for former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao and seven others, to which an immigration lookout order had been released.

Yang and Lao are both under probe due to alleged deficiencies in the use of the P67-billion budget for pandemic response under the Department of Health (DOH) which was reflected in the 2020 Commission on Audit (COA) report.

The Blue Ribbon has been investigating the government’s handling of COVID-19 response funds, including the procurement of supposedly “overpriced” face masks and shields. AAC

 

Palace insists COA has jurisdiction to audit Red Cross, other NGOs

Robie de Guzman   •   September 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Tuesday maintained that the Commission on Audit (COA) has the authority to look into the finances of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and its use of funds received from the government.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that under the Philippine Constitution, COA can scrutinize the use of funds by NGOs “receiving subsidy or equity directly or indirectly from or through the government.”

The PRC is a non-governmental humanitarian organization.

Roque said that several COA issuances also allow special audits on the PRC.

“May hurisdiksyon ho ba ang Commission on Audit sa Philippine Red Cross? Ang sagot, meron po,” he said in a Palace briefing.

Roque said the state auditor should particularly look into the agreement entered into by the PRC with Metro Manila mayors and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) on the COVID-19 RT-PCR testing.

He also pointed out that under existing law, the PRC is mandated to submit a yearly financial report to the President as its honorary chairman.

Roque said that the agency has not submitted any report since 2016.

“Malinaw kasi po na nakalagay sa PRC charter na hindi ito maaaring kumita habang ginagampanan nito ang kanyang mandato… Simula 2016, wala pong isinumiteng ang PRC sa presidente ng Pilipinas na annual report, laman ng kanilang gawain at nagpakita ng kanilang financial conditions tulad ng pinag-uutos ng RA 10072,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier lashed out at PRC’s chairman, Senator Richard Gordon, for questioning the transactions made by the government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gordon is spearheading a Senate inquiry into the government’s alleged procurement of overpriced medical supplies and equipment last year.

Duterte also accused Gordon of using the PRC to further his political career.

NBI files charges vs 12 cops, 4 PDEA agents involved in QC misencounter

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed charges against 12 policemen and 4 agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) involved in the misencounter in Quezon City.

The “misencounter” occurred on February 24 near a fast-food restaurant along Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City which resulted in the deaths of two policeman, a PDEA agent and an informant.

Based on the investigation conducted, the NBI recommended the prosecution PDEA agents Khee Maricar Pornobi Rodas, Jelou Juanitez Santiniaman, and Jeffrey Panhon Baguidudol for homicide over the death of Quezon City Police Department member PCPL Eric Elvin Garado.

PDEA agent Romeo Asuncion and Quezon City Police District-District Special Operating Unit (QCPD-DSOU) member PCPL Alvin Borja were recommended to be criminally charged for the deaths of policeman Lauro De Guzman and PDEA agent Rankin B. Gano, respectively.

Recommendation for prosecution was also given to Santiniaman and eight other policemen identified as Borja, PLT Ronnie Ereno, PCPL Marlon Masiclat, PCPL Ronilo Prepose, PCPL Jason Coranez, PCPL Aries Curit, PCPL Marco Tapanan, PCPL James Dasalla for attempted homicide.

PMAJ Sandie D. Caparroso, PCPL Raul Christian Zacarias Gandeza, PLT Honey Besas  were also accused of direct assault with physical injuries, direct assault with less serious physical injuries, and direct assault. Caparroso was also charged with robbery and conniving or consenting to evasion.

Meanwhile, PCPL Christopher Alvarez Besas and Erena were named Caparroso’s co-respondents in the allegation of having committed conniving or consenting to evasion.

 

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