More authorities probe corruption ‘the better’: Palace

Malacañang on Tuesday attributed President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to order the creation of a mega task force to probe corruption in the entire government to have more agencies involved in getting rid of dishonest public officials.

In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte instructed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to head a mega task force as he was not satisfied with current anti-corruption efforts.

Roque said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra may invite representatives from the Office of the Ombudsman, National Bureau of Investigation, Civil Service Commission, and Commission on Audit to join the task force.

“Using his own personal standards, hindi satisfied si Pangulo sa paglinis sa gobyerno. It’s really a systems problem na kinakailangan talaga tutukan (the President is not satisfied with efforts to cleanse the government. It’s really a system problem that needs full attention),” he said.

He also pointed out that the DOJ had 20 times more prosecutors to investigate anomalies hounding different departments compared to the Office of the Ombudsman.

“Even if there is an Office of the Ombudsman, the biggest public prosecutor is still under the Department of Justice because the number of prosecutors that we have under the DOJ is simply… probably 20 times more than the lawyers that they have at the Office of the Ombudsman,” he said.

Roque said Duterte also wanted to leave a legacy of a less corrupt government before his term ends in 2022.

“Ito po’y kumbaga leaving a legacy at ang legacy niya talaga ay patunayan na kung talagang tututukan at gagamitin ang political will, ay talaga pong mababawasan ang korupsyon bagamat aminado na tayo na hindi tuluyang mawawala ang korupsyon (He wants to leave a legacy, and his legacy is to prove that if given full attention and with political will, we can really reduce corruption even if we are aware that it cannot be fully eradicated),” he said.

Roque assured that the functions of the mega task force would not overlap with that of other agencies and constitutional bodies involved in investigating and prosecuting public officials.

“Wala naman po ‘yang magiging overlap unang-una, meron pong [memorandum of agreement] sa panig po ng Ombudsman at ang DOJ na pupuwede naman pong magimbestiga rin ang DOJ pagdating po sa mga kaso pagdating po sa paglabag ng Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (There won’t be overlap because there is a MOA between the Ombudsman and DOJ that the DOJ may also investigate cases in violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act),” he said.

He said the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, which is authorized to do lifestyle checks and fact-finding inquiries public officials, may also be invited to join the mega task force.

“Mas marami pong mga tauhang gobyerno na nakatutok sa korupsyon, mas mabuti (The more authorities giving attention to corruption, the better),” he said.

Asked if the task force would also investigate members of the Congress, Roque said elected officials do not have immunity from being prosecuted for violations under anti-graft laws.

“Kasama po ang lahat po ng mga public offices despite the separation of powers dahil wala naman pong separate na ahensiya na nag-iimbestiga ng korapsiyon sa Kongreso mismo (All public offices will be included despite the separation of powers because there’s no separate agency investigating corruption in the Congress),” he said.

In his pre-recorded speech aired Tuesday, Duterte asked the DOJ to probe allegations of corruption “in the entire government”, but with a special focus on the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

He said the DOJ may also prosecute and file appropriate charges against those involved in anomalies investigated whether against the government or private person as may be warranted by evidence gathered.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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