DOJ forms secretariat to accept, evaluate all reports of corrupt practices
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra called on the public to report all corruption activities in the government to the task force, led by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
He issued the call after President Duterte ordered him to expand the role of the task force which investigated anomalies at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) by investigating all corruption in the entire government.
On Wednesday, Guevarra announced that the DOJ has already created a secretariat which will accept and evaluate reports of government corruption from the public.
“Nag-organize na kaagad kami ng isang secretariat para dito sa purpose na ito kasi alam namin na dadagsain kami ng mga sumbong ng mga reklamo (We immediately organized a secretariat for this purpose because we are anticipating that we will be receiving numerous reports of corruption in government from the public),” Guevarra said during a radio interview on DZBB on Wednesday.
“Kaya itong aming secretariat ang magiging function niya ay tanggapin lahat ng mga ganitong klaseng reklamo at i-sort out nila, i-evalute nila, at ipa-prioritize kung alin ang karapatadapat na bigyan ng immediate priority attention ng task force (The function of the secretariat will be to receive, sort, evaluate, and prioritize which complaints will be brought to the attention of the task force),” he said.
Guevarra said the decision to form a secretariat was reached during his meeting on Tuesday with DOJ undersecretaries and assistant secretaries as well as with National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Officer-in-Charge Director Eric Distor and Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento regarding the corruption investigation that will be conducted by the task force.
“Bukod sa mga sumbong na manggaling sa mga tao ay kami mismo gagawa ng sarili naming inisyatibo para halungkatin ang mga ganitong mga corrupt activities (Aside from reports from the public, the task force will also have its own initiative in uncovering corrupt activities),” he said.
The secretary said the task force will look into reports released by the Commission on Audit (COA), investigative reports made by the media, as well as inquiries conducted by the Senate and House of Representatives.
The task force is led by the DOJ and consists of the NBI, the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP), the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), the National Prosecution Service (NPS), the DOJ’s Office of Cybercrime (OOC), and the AntiMoney Laundering Council (AMLC).
Guevarra said the task force will invite again the three independent constitutional bodies — COA, Civil Service Commission (CSC), and the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB), to work with the task force. Because of the large scope of the investigation, Guevarra said the task force will prioritize its probe of corruption.
“Ayon doon sa memorandum na inissue ng Presidente sa akin, i-consider ng task force yung gravity or magnitude nung anomalya o nung corrupt activity (The memorandum that the President issued to me states that the task force should consider the gravity or magnitude of the corrupt activity). So we’re talking here about values, magnitude of the funds involved,” the DOJ chief said.
“Nabanggit din doon sa memo yung possible impact on the delivery of government service to be considered in choosing kung alin ang iimbestigahan nitong task force (The memo also mentioned that the task force should also consider the possible impact on the delivery of government service in choosing which corrupt activity to investigate),” he added.
Guevarra said the task force has identified the government agencies it will focus on in its investigation – the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which the President himself identified; the Bureau of Customs (BOC); the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR); and the Land Registration Authority (LRA).
He added that there are already ongoing investigations on PhilHealth and that steps have already been taken to address allegations of corruption at the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said no government official will be spared in the massive corruption probe in government.
He said the DOJ-led task force may investigate all government officials, including those from the legislature and local government units.
Meanwhile, Guevarra believes there is a need for “values formation” and to educate the public that corruption is wrong if the government hopes to reduce corrupt activities.
Guevarra said on Wednesday that the DOJ-led task force investigating corruption in government is also set to conduct a corruption prevention campaign, including a public information drive.
“Isa sa objectives ng aming task force ay hindi lamang para maimbestigahan at makasuhan yung mga taong involved sa mga ganitong activities. Isa pa sa aming primary objectives ay yung prevention ng corruption (One of the objectives of the task force is not only the investigation of persons involved in anomalies. One of our primary objectives is corruption prevention),” he said during a radio interview over DZBB.
“Isa dyan sa part ng campaign na yan ay values formation na kung pupwedeng magamit namin ang partnership with the public sector, with the media (Part of the campaign is value formation wherein we can tap our partnership with the public sector and the media),” he added.
Guevarra pointed out there is a need to educate the citizenry about corruption. (With a report from Genalyn D. Kabiling)