Ombudsman lambasts journalist over disrespect, ‘SALN wiretapping’
Marje Pelayo • December 19, 2019 • 2044
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.
Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Wednesday (June 17) ordered an investigation on Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque and other DOH officials over alleged irregularities in the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response.
“I directed the creation of two more investigating teams who will jointly investigate alleged irregularities and anomalies committed by DOH officials and employees, including Health Sec. Francisco Duque, in relation to the response of the DOH during this pandemic,” he said.
Martires also tasked the investigating team to file complaints against any DOH official or employee who would refuse to cooperate with the investigation.
Among the accusations to be investigated include:
Purchase of 100 thousand test kits by the Department of Health
Delayed procurement of Personal Protective Equipment and other medical gears necessary for the protection of healthcare workers
Alleged lapses and irregularities that led to the death of medical workers
Rising number of deaths and infected medical frontliners
Inaction in the release processing of benefits and financial assistance of “fallen” and infected medical frontliners; and
Confusing and delayed reporting of COVID-19 related deaths and confirmed cases.
Malacañang said it respects the decision of the Ombudsman to conduct an investigation on Duque and other DOH officials.
“We will let the process run its course as we enjoin Secretary Duque & the entire DOH bureaucracy to cooperate with the investigation and respect the orders of the OMB,” according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)
MANILA, Philippines – Former Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas and detained Senator Leila de Lima have broken their silence amid reports linking them to the controversial Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.
Roxas and De Lima were among those who drafted the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
The Office of the Ombudsman has requested Roxas and De Lima to explain why the provisions concerning convicts of heinous crimes in relation to the GCTA privilege was not clarified in the IRR.
But the former Interior chief maintained that the IRR shouldn’t be blamed just because the law wasn’t properly implemented.
In a tweet, Roxas stressed that those who approved the convicts’ release order should face the questioning, not those who drafted the IRR.
He accused his critics of passing the buck because of the controversial law.
Nevertheless, Roxas vowed to appear and cooperate in the Ombudsman’s probe.
“Apparently iimbestigahan ng Ombudsman itong (The Ombudsman will probe this) GCTA issue. Well and good, at masasagot ko kung ano man ang mga tanong nila (I will have the chance to answer their questions),” Roxas tweeted.
Meanwhile, De Lima expressed doubts over the intention behind the linking of her name to the GCTA issue when she has nothing to do with the controversy.
“I find this development highly irregular,” the lady senator said in a statement.
De Lima emphasized that the focus of the probe should be on whether or not the officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) followed the rules and reviewed the cases using the proper guidelines of releasing a convict under GCTA.
Roxas and De Lima were given three days to respond to the request of the Ombudsman.
Meanwhile, the Ombudsman has launched a fact-finding investigation to determine the alleged irregularities in the implementation of the GCTA law. — MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)
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.
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.
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