Ombudsman to continue receiving, acting on complaints despite upcoming elections

Published October 20, 2021, 11:24 AM

by Jel Santos

Office of the Ombudsman

Despite the upcoming elections, the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) will continue receiving and acting on complaints filed against public officials and employees together with private individuals, be they candidates or not.

Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires said the OMB will not impose a special policy during the election period, unlike other agencies.

“We will just treat them same with other cases. We, in the Office of the Ombudsman, treat all cases equally [even during election season],” he said in a telephone interview.

But Martires pointed out: “Whether election or not, a respondent or an accused in a case has the presumption of innocence.”

Last Oct. 3, the Commission on Audit (COA) announced that it has halted the creation of teams that will conduct fraud and special audit based on complaints or petitions against all politicians who have filed their respective certificates of candidacy for the 2022 elections.

Ombudsman Martires, however, said that if a “gag order” is issued on a case, complainants will not be allowed to divulge that they filed a complaint against any individuals be they candidate or not.

A “gag order” is issued by the courts and other agencies with quasi-judicial power to avoid trial by publicity and, in effect, attempt to influence the outcome of the cases.

History shows that during election period, there is a surge of complaints filed against candidates before the OMB. Many believe that the complaints are meant to tarnish the names of those cited as respondents.