De Lima seeks probe of corruption at NCMH

Published October 18, 2020, 10:59 AM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Sen. Leila de Lima is seeking an investigation on the alleged graft and corruption in the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) in Mandaluyong City.


De Lima has filed Senate Resolution No. 538 urging the Senate to conduct a legislative probe on the “systemic graft and corruption that has long besieged the NCMH.”

She also sought an inquiry on the “apparent inaction and ordinate delay” of the Office of the Ombudsman to act on the complaints regarding the reported irregularities in the government mental health institution.

“There is an urgent need to look into NCMH’s state of affairs, particularly the systemic graft and corruption therein, that have cost the country millions in taxpayers’ money to dubious spending, and the life of a doctor who only intended to cleanse the NCMH from debilitating corruption,” De Lima said in the resolution.

In the measure, De Lima recalled former NCMH chief Dr. Roland Cortez filing charges against NCMH administrative chief Clarita Avila in July last year over the supposed anomalies concerning the extension of the facility’s Pavilion 6. The Department of Health backed Cortez’s claims.

Cortez and his driver were shot dead in Quezon City by motorcycle-riding assailants last July 27, a year after he filed the charges before the Ombudsman. Police later identified Avila as the mastermind in Cortez’s murder, linking it to the investigation on the alleged corruption in the NCMH.

De Lima, in the measure, hit the Ombudsman for its supposed inaction on the case alleging corruption in the NCMH despite repeated calls from concerned bodies for the prompt resolution of the complaints.

She pointed out that the Ombudsman, under the law, was mandated to prioritize complaints against high-ranking officials involving grave offenses and large sums of money or properties.

“Graft and corruption has long marred the NCMH. The systemic corruption inside the Center was first exposed by Dr. Cortez in 2019. The complaint has languished in the dockets of the Ombudsman despite news reports disclosing that according to the Sandiganbayan, the Office of the Ombudsman’s cases versus erring officials dropped by 80.46 percent in 2019,” she said.

“Despite the record-low decrease in the number of cases that the Office of the Ombudsman elevates to the Sandiganbayan, the complaints that shed light into the crippling corruption inside the institution at the forefront of the country’s quest to promote holistic mental wellness, especially crucial in these times, have withered in its dockets,” she added.