Published: 10 September 2021
Intending to revive its Resident Ombudsmen Program, the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) inked a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to designate state prosecutors and auditors as resident ombudsmen in selected government agencies that are perceived to be graft-ridden.
COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo, DOJ Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra, and Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires signed the MOA on 08 September 2021 to “synergize the investigatory powers of the Ombudsman, DOJ, and COA in the implementation of corruption prevention measures and to act on complaints and reports of corrupt activities, thus aiding the Ombudsman and COA to carry out their respective mandates while also serving as a supplemental tool for the DOJ to attain the purposes of the Task Force Against Corruption which it is spearheading.”
The OMB initiated the proposed MOA which stemmed from the inter-agency Task Force Against Corruption pursuant to President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to the DOJ to create an inter-agency panel that will conduct a corruption investigation into the “entire government.”
The deputy/resident ombudsmen are expected to start deployment this month to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Bureau of Customs (BOC), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Land Registration Authority (LRA), and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth). Assignments may also be made to “other agencies that may be identified later on as graft-prone or with high corruption risk” until the termination of the MOA on 30 June 2022.
Under the MOA, the resident ombudsmen shall receive complaints against officials and employees of the office where they are deployed and shall endorse it to the Justice Secretary, the COA Chairperson, and the Ombudsman.
The previous Resident Ombudsman Program was implemented in 2001 under Administrative Order (AO) No. 10 urging all heads of agencies of government, including government-owned or controlled corporations, to install a Resident Ombudsman in their respective offices. Under AO 10, the Resident Ombudsman was deputized as Ombudsman investigator with the authority to conduct fact-finding inquiries in matters falling within the functions of the OMB. The duties and responsibilities of the then Resident Ombudsman included reporting anomalies, irregular acts, unethical conduct or illegal activities committed by officials and employees of the office and aiding the OMB in gathering evidence in cases under investigation by the OMB.