Ombudsman lacks manpower to assign reps in gov't agencies

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Ombudsman Samuel Martires (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 24) — Ombudsman Samuel Martires said he has agreed to a proposal to assign graft investigators in government agencies to aid ongoing probes against erring public officials.

However, Martires said his office lacks the manpower to do so.

"Kulang kami sa tao. Hiring ako, pero ngayon ang pinalalakas ko is the field investigation office kaya ako nagha-hire muna ng mga imbestigador. Then susunod na palalakasin is the public assistance unit," Martires said.

[Translation: We do not have enough people. I am hiring but I am now reinforcing the field investigation office, so I am hiring investigators for now. Next will be the public assistance unit.]

The Justice Department is mulling the placement of senior investigating officers from the Ombudsman in government agencies as it leads a task force investigating corruption in the entire Philippine government.

Justice secretary Menardo Guevarra said it used to be a practice to have a resident ombudsman in government agencies.

But former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales recalled the resident Ombudsmen as some of them supposedly got too close to the government officials they were investigating.

"'Yan ang sinasabi ko kay [That's what I told] Secretary Guevarra, these lawyers are now assigned to different departments and they are busy with their own work, ang hirap kako i-pull out [It's difficult to pull them out]," Martires explained.

Martires says he had suggested to Guevarra to deputize DOJ prosecutors instead.

The DOJ-led task force said it has received 60 complaints in the past two weeks regarding alleged corruption in various agencies, including in the public works department, customs bureau, and local government units.