The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday welcomed the pronouncements made by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on including the judiciary in the coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct an all-encompassing campaign against corruption.
“As for the offer of Secretary Guevarra to assist the judiciary in its campaign against corruption, the same is very much appreciated. Any assistance for the good of the institution and to protect its integrity should not be shunned, but instead welcomed,” SC spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka told newsmen.
Hosaka said Guevarra’s offer of assistance acknowledges the judiciary’s system and process in investigating corruption within its ranks.
“In fact, weeding out misfits in the judiciary is a priority of Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta and is included in his 10-point program for the judiciary, which he bared a year ago upon his assumption as Chief Justice,” he said.
Hosaka also reiterated that Peralta has endeavored to ensure that the Judiciary Integrity Board (JIB) and the Corruption Prevention and Investigation Office (CPIO) are established at the soonest possible time.
Both the JIB and CPIO are mandated to investigate complaints against erring justices, judges, officials, and employees of the judiciary.
Last October 19, the SC disclosed the appointment of the members of the JIB – retired Justice Romeo Callejo Sr. as chairperson, retired Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez as vice chairperson, and retired Justices Sesinando Villon, Rodolfo Ponderada, and Cielito Mindaro-Grulla as members of the JIB.
Guevarra said Wednesday the President’s orders for the DOJ to go after grafters in the government would mean the prosecution of offenders and prevention of corruption in the bureaucracy.
He earlier said he hopes that the entire bureaucracy would cooperate with his department, which has been tasked by the President to take the lead in the administration’s crackdown on corruption.
Guevarra on Tuesday met with senior DOJ officials, including Prosecutor General Benedicto A. Malcontento and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Officer in Charge, Director Eric B. Distor, to discuss the organization of the task force that would investigate allegations of corruption in the entire government, methods of securing information regarding incidences of corruption in government, and possible approaches for the investigation of these allegations, taking into consideration their gravity and impact on the delivery of government services.
It was agreed during the meeting that the core group constituted for the task force to investigate allegations of corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) would be the same core group for the task force to investigate allegations of corruption in the entire government.
The core group, headed by the DOJ, is composed of the NBI, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, Office of the Special Assistant to the President, National Prosecution Service, and the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
The task force shall also invite the Commission on Audit, the Civil Service Commission, and the Office of the Ombudsman to work with the task force, with due consideration for their independence as constitutional bodies.
Duterte earlier ordered the DOJ to extend its probe on corruption to cover the entire bureaucracy.
He said the department may 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.
“The power and authority of the DOJ under existing laws and previous directives to investigate the commission of crimes and prosecute violators shall not in any way be diminished by this directive,” the President added.
He said the directive would be in effect until June 30, 2022, unless sooner lifted or revoked.
Source: Philippines News Agency