TFAC vows fight vs corruption; Guevarra seeks citizens' help

Published July 27, 2021, 2:12 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra, who heads the Task Force Against Corruption (TFAC), vowed to exert more efforts to fight corruption in government.

Guevarra said “President Duterte was honest enough to admit that corruption is nearly impossible to eradicate” as he pointed out that “there is not a single country in the world where corruption in one form or another does not exist.”

“The challenge is to create a framework where corruption will be difficult to thrive, such as adopting electronic transactions, reducing red tape, streamlining legal processes, and imposing stiffer penalties,” he pointed out.

“This is not the responsibility of the government alone; this is equally the moral duty of every citizen to ensure that corruption is not abetted, but is rather exposed and prosecuted,” he stressed.

He said that while the TFAC has no express powers in the fight against corruption, the task force “will exert greater efforts to help the President in his anti-corruption drive in the remaining months of his administration.”

As of last July 19, the DOJ-led TFAC has received a total of 240 complaints and 20 of them have been endorsed to the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB).

Guevarra said “the OMB has acted upon and is currently evaluating the numerous complaints endorsed/filed by the TFAC….”

Guevarra said that one of the complaints received by TFAC and endorsed to the OMB involved the Free Wi-Fi for All project of the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

However, he did not give details on the complaint involving the Free Wi-Fi for All project.

He said most of the complaints received by TFAC against government officials “had something to do with their intervention in public works projects in their respective jurisdiction.”

Among these complaints were those filed against a town mayor in Lanao del Norte, certain officials in Isabela, some town officials in Zamboanga del Norte, a municipal mayor in Batangas, and registers of deeds in Leyte and Tarlac.

To beef up the fight against corruption, Guevarra said DOJ prosecutors and Commission on Audit (COA) auditors will soon be deployed as “resident ombudsmen in various graft-prone agencies of the government.”

“We hope to sign it next week. With deputized resident ombudsmen in place, the TFAC can take more effective action,” he said.