Ombudsman lambasts journalist over disrespect, ‘SALN wiretapping’

Marje Pelayo   •   December 19, 2019   •   2302

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.

Velasco urges PACC to send corruption report to Ombudsman

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco urged the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) to submit to the Office of the Ombudsman their report on the alleged involvement of several lawmakers in anomalies at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

“Pursuant to due process, we believe that the matter should be brought before the Ombudsman, given the limited jurisdiction of the PACC over officials in the Executive Branch, and not those in the legislature,” he said.

In a statement on Tuesday (December 29), Velasco said the President made it clear that there is a presumption of innocence and such announcement was not an indictment. He also remind the public “not take it as gospel truth that it’s true.”

Based on reports, Velasco said the House members included in the PACC list claimed that none of the representatives from PACC have invited them for questioning.

“It appears that the PACC has not made any investigation as to the veracity of the accusations against them since they belong to another branch of government, which is not within the authority of the Commission,” Velasco said. AAC

Publication of Duterte’s SALN depends on the Office of the Ombudsman, Palace says

Marje Pelayo   •   October 20, 2020

 MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang insists that the publication of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth or SALN depends on the Office of the Ombudsman.

This was the Palace’s response when asked whether the public will ever get to see the wealth records of the Chief Executive.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque advises the public to follow the regulations imposed by the Ombudsman on public access to SALN of government officials.

“May bago pong guidelines na sinusunod ang Office of the Ombudsman. Siguro po dahil po constitutional body ang Ombudsman, dapat pong sundin ang kanilang mga guidelines [The Office of the Ombudsman is following a set of guidelines. Since the Ombudsman is a constitutional body, their guidelines must be followed),” Roque stressed. 

Unlike in past administrations, the Ombudsman is no longer allowing the public to see copies of the SALNs.

It can only be provided to a requester if he or she is the declarant or the person who filed the SALN or the duly representative of the declarant, a court order is present or the request is made by the Ombudsman’s field investigation units. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2020

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.

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