Dispatch from Crame No. 389: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s statement on the Ombudsman’s new policy to give up if its prosecutors lose cases at the level of Sandiganbayan, RTCs


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It was reported recently that Ombudsman Samuel Martires has issued a directive not to anymore appeal lost cases in the Sandiganbayan and the lower courts. I consider this as a clear sign that we are now in a path towards impunity and away from accountability.

In the 2001 case of Uy v. Sandiganbayan, the Supreme Court emphasized that: “The prosecution of offenses committed by public officers and employees is one of the most important functions of the Ombudsman.” The mandate of the Ombudsman as the protector of the people impresses upon him and his office the obligation to be an active and effective agent of the people in ensuring accountability in public office.

However, we are now living in dark times, under a president whose utter disregard, disrespect and contempt of the laws is an everyday occurrence. Kung ang nasa tuktok ng administrasyon mismo ang bumabali at bumabastos sa mga batas, ano pa nga ang aasahan nating mga Pilipino?

Under such kind of leadership, we need a strong and independent ombudsman who will resist any attempt to abuse public office. We had that under former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales whose independence, competence, and integrity is so well beyond question that Duterte himself cannot take her down despite attempts to do so.

Unfortunately, the President replaced her with Ombudsman Martires, whose independence from Duterte is suspect at best. In his short stint in the Supreme Court, he has always voted in favor of Duterte’s positions no matter how tenuous they were.

Ilang araw lamang matapos maluklok sa puwesto si Ombudsman Martires ay nagpakita na siya ng kawalan ng kasarinlan nang ipatupad niya ang dismissal ng Malacanang kay Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Carandang sa kabila ng malinaw na hatol ng Korte Suprema laban dito.

A few weeks after that, Ombudsman Martires has ordered his prosecutors to withdraw all pending motions for the preventive suspension of public officials being prosecuted and to refrain from filing the same in future cases.

Now, our Ombudsman issued a directive not to anymore appeal any dismissal of cases and acquittals by both the trial courts and the Sandiganbayan, as well as reversals secured at the Court of Appeals. He is now preventing our prosecutors to exhaust all remedies against lost cases regardless of the merits of the case.

It appears that there is a systematic attempt on the part of the new Ombudsman to reduce the efforts of his office to half-measures. Such trend will not only end up frustrating the ends of justice, but will operate to embolden those who seek to abuse the public office for personal gains.

This administration’s lack of interest to hold those guilty of abuse of power responsible is so telling; that there cannot be any clearer manifestation of the erosion of the independence and zeal of the Office of the Ombudsman than this.

Tila ba ang gusto lamang na maikulong sa likod ng mga rehas ay ang mga may lakas ng loob na magsabi ng totoo, kaysa ang mga tunay na nang-aaso sa bayan. Silang patuloy na nagpapataba ng sariling mga bulsa habang milyon-milyon sa ating mga kababayan ang patuloy na nasasadlak sa kahirapan, sila ang pinoprotektahan ni Duterte.

We are in a slippery slope and if we do not do something now, we will lose our fight against graft and corruption. Ito ba ang pagbabagong paulit-ulit na ipinangako sa taong-bayan?

This administration has done nothing but sow discord among people, and breed public officials whose sense of accountability and integrity is so questionable that it makes a mockery of the fundamental rule that “a public office is a public trust”.

There could be no greater betrayal of the nation than this: to give those who empty the pockets of the nation, at a time of agonizing famine and devastating disasters, unbridled courage to do so while the Ombudsman looks away. Sino na ang tatanod para sa taumbayan? ###

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