Drilon asks Ombudsman to submit specific amendments to anti-graft law

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2020   •   266

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday urged the Office of the Ombudsman to lay down possible amendments it wants to be made to strengthen the country’s anti-graft law.

In a radio interview, Drilon said Ombudsman Samuel Martires should submit specific proposals to strengthen Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and make the law “more attuned to the present times.”

“Ang sinabi po niya ay 1987 pa ang batas sa Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees kaya akin pong hinihling sa Ombudsman, can we be favored kung ano ang proposed amendments sa batas para mapalakas ang ma-update ang batas?” he said.

“I suspect that the views of the Ombudsman reflects the thinking of the Supreme Court being a former member of the High Court and a Sandiganbayan justice,” he added.

Drilon issued the remarks after Martires said on Tuesday that he has stopped the conduct of lifestyle checks on government officials as he expressed misgivings on the existing provisions of the law.

“Nung umupo ako, pinatigil ko muna ang lifestyle check kasi matagal na ako may duda sa probisyon ng batas tungkol sa lifestyle check. Gusto ko i-propose sa Congress ng amendments sa 6713 kasi yug provisions there, Malabo, walang hulog sa logic,” Martires said.

 “Bakit ko pinatigil? What is living beyong your means? Iyong kumikita ng P50,000 a month, lives in a small house, nakaipon, bumili ng BMW na promo, zero interest, kayang-kaya niya hulugan, is he living beyon his means? I don’t think so. What he has are distorted values and distorted priorities,” he added.

Earlier this month, Martires also restricted access to the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth of public officials submitted to his office.

Drilon believes that addressing the concerns raised by the Ombudsman will be a big boost in the fight against corruption.

Corruption cases are brought to the courts, the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan, he added.

“Hence, it behooves Congress to listen to what the judiciary is saying and find out how it can amend the law and make it attuned with the times,” Drilon said.

“We will examine the existing law and we will look at measures to further strengthen the principle of transparency,” he added.

Ombudsman lambasts journalist over disrespect, ‘SALN wiretapping’

Marje Pelayo   •   December 19, 2019

Ombudsman Samuel Martires

MANILA, Philippines — Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Wednesday (December 18) lambasted journalist Malou Mangahas for secretly recording him in an informal conversation regarding his decision not to release President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) for 2018.

In a statement, Judge Martires stressed that what he had with Mangahas was never a formal interview but a brief, informal conversation while the journalist was being persistent, tailing him in the hallway of a hotel in Manila on Monday (December 9).

Martires said he was never informed by Mangahas that she was already interviewing him and worse, he was not informed that the journalist was already recording him.

“For the record, hindi humingi ng consent mula sa akin bilang interviewee si Ms. Mangahas para irekord ang aming kaswal na pag-uusap (Ms. Mangahas did not ask for my permission to record our casual conversation),” Martires said.

“Sa ganang akin, hindi lamang niya nilapastangan ang aking pagkatao ngunit nilabag pa niya ang Anti-Wiretapping Law (For my part, she did not only disrespect my person but she also violated the Anti-Wiretapping Law),” he stressed.

Martires continued saying Mangahas showed an “unethical behavior” unbecoming of a veteran journalist and writer.

Martires insisted that while he recognizes the public’s right to access SALNs of public officials, he is mandated to protect their rights as well under the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 6713.

In reaction to Martires’ claims, Mangahas posted on the website of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) her side of the story.

“Ombudsman Martires knew that as a public official with expertise and mandate on the issues raised, he was speaking face-to-face with a journalist with a legitimate journalistic purpose, on a matter of public interest. The conversation occurred in a public space and even with the full knowledge and in full view of his own personnel from the Office of the Ombudsman,” the PCIJ Executive Director said.

“PCIJ respects the views of Ombudsman Martires on this matter but respectfully insists, too, that all he has to do now is release President Duterte’s SALN for 2018, pending the long-awaited issuance of his new guidelines, and consistent with the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman as ‘the Protector of the People,’” she added.

De Lima says Ombudsman request for explanation on GCTA rules ‘highly irregular’

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2019

Senator Leila de Lima (File photo by Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday said she finds the request of the Office of the Ombudsman to explain the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Republic Act 10592, which increased the good conduct time allowance given to inmates, as “highly irregular.”

In a statement, De Lima confirmed she has received the letter of the Ombudsman directing her to explain or clarify in writing the IRR of the GCTA law.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires earlier wrote a letter, a copy of which was released to the media, requesting De Lima and Mar Roxas to explain the implementing rules they drafted for RA 10592.

READ: Ombudsman seeks De Lima, Roxas clarification amid probe on GCTA rules

De Lima was the Justice Secretary while Roxas was the Interior and Local Government chief when the law was enacted in 2013.

Martires wanted De Lima and Roxas to explain why the IRR they drafted only disqualifies from benefitting from the law those who are recidivists, who have been convicted previously twice or more times of any crime and those who failed to surrender before a court after being summoned.

The Republic Act 10592, which expanded the GCTA stated in the Revised Penal Code, excludes recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes from its coverage.

“In this regard, this (Ombudsman) Office requests the submission, within three days from receipt hereof, of a written explanation/clarification on why the foregoing provision in the IRR does not contain the same disqualifications as enumerated in the last paragraph of Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 1 of R.A. 10592,” the letter read.

But De Lima noted the opening of the letter, which says the Office of the Ombudsman has “opened a fact-finding investigation on alleged irregularities in the implementation of the GCTA law.”

“Am I to be treated here as a resource person, a respondent, or a probable respondent?” she asked.

“Is this a set-up for me and Sec. Mar into taking the fall for the Sanchez-Faeldon scandal with which we have nothing to do?” she added.

De Lima said she finds this development “highly irregular,” and that she will have to consult her lawyers on the matter.

The senator was referring to earlier reports that convicted rapist-murderer, ex-Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez could be among the 11,000 convicts eligible for early release due to the new GCTA rule.

The news sparked public outrage and led to Sanchez’s aborted release, President Rodrigo Duterte’s dismissal of Nicanor Faeldon as Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief and the Ombudsman’s order to suspend several BuCor officials linked to the questionable application of the GCTA law.

A series of Senate hearing on the issue also revealed the purported ‘GCTA for sale’ and ‘hospital pass for sale’ at the national penitentiary.

The said schemes allegedly involving several BuCor executives purportedly allow moneyed inmates to get hospital referrals and other prison benefits on the basis of tampered medical record that would make it appear that they need to be transferred to less congested facilities for health reasons.

New Ombudsman Samuel Martires sworn into office

Marje Pelayo   •   August 6, 2018

Justice Samuel Martires (center) sworn in as the new Ombudsman

 

MANILA, Philippines – Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Martires has sworn into office as the new Ombudsman.

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio administered Martires’ oathtaking on Monday (August 6).

Martires, who was chosen by President Rodrigo Duterte, opted for an early retirement as SC Associate Justice to replace Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

Morales ended her term on July 26. – UNTV News & Rescue

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