Mega task force probe only covers corrupt activities P1 billion or more

Published October 30, 2020, 7:05 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

The Department of Justice (DOJ)-led mega task force decided on Friday, Oct. 30, to set a P1-billion threshold on corrupt activities it will investigate.

Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar. (Photo courtesy of DOJ Usec. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar Facebook page via PNA / MANILA BULLETIN)

DOJ Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar disclosed after task force members met Friday afternoon to discuss how it should proceed with its investigation.

“We talked about the objectives of the task force and the structure of the task force,” the DOJ spokesperson disclosed.

“We confirmed the five agencies to be prioritized and agreed on the parameters for determining which allegations the task force will consider,” she said.

Villar said one of the parameters set by the task force was to investigate corrupt activities involving amounts of at least P1 billion.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had earlier identified the five government agencies that the task will initially investigate. These are the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Land Registration Authority (LRA), the Bureau of Immigration (BI), the Bureau of Customs (BOC), and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Villar, however, said the task force has yet to decide what particular activities will be investigated.

“The particular transactions were not identified – just the agencies and the threshold amount. But these will be included in the investigations conducted,” Villar said.

The task force is led by the DOJ and consists of the National Bureau of Investigation (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 Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

Guevarra said the task force intends to invite for cooperation and collaboration three independent constitutional bodies – the Commission on Audit (COA), Civil Service Commission (CSC), and the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) – to work with the task force.

Because of the wide scope of the directive of President Duterte to investigate the entire government, the secretary had earlier said the task force will prioritize its probe of corruption.

“Ayon doon sa memorandum na inisyu 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 during a recent radio interview.

“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 also consider  the possible impact on the delivery government service on choosing which corrupt activity to investigate),” he added.