Lady Protector

Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was published in the February 25, 2009 edition of the Business Mirror, page A6.

Dear Ombudsgirl,

I got the following from your official website:

“Welcome

The fundamental law of the land gives the Office of the Ombudsman the calling and badge of “Protector of the People”. This constitutional appellation captures the nature of its various functions: The Ombudsman protects the people from abuse and misuse of governmental power for personal aggrandizement.

Mandate

The ombudsman and his deputies, as protectors of the people shall act promptly on complaints filed in any form or manner against officers or employees of the Government, or of any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations, and enforce their administrative, civil and criminal liability in every case where the evidence warrants in order to promote efficient service by the Government to the people (Section 13, R.A. No. 6770; see also Section 12 Article XI of the 1987 Constitution). The Ombudsman shall give priority to complaints filed against high ranking government officials and/or those occupying supervisory positions, complaints involving grave offenses as well as complaints involving large sums of money and/or properties (Sec. 15, R.A. No. 6770).”

And from Sec.3 of the Amended Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman:

“Form of complaints, grievances or request for assistance. – Complaints may be in any form, either verbal or in writing. For a speedier disposition of the complaint, however, it is preferable that it be in writing and under oath. A complaint which does not disclose the identity of the complainant will be acted upon only if it merits appropriate consideration, or contains sufficient leads or particulars to enable the taking of further action.

Grievances or requests for assistance may likewise be verbal or in writing. In any case, the requesting or complaining party must indicate his address and telephone number, if any.”

Madame Protector of the People from abuse and misuse of governmental power for personal aggrandizement, I’m trying to reconcile the above with your position regarding the World Bank report on collusion among public works contractors.

You said, “I wrote the World Bank and they said, you cannot share the report with the Senate. What can I do? Where did the list (of witnesses who exposed the contractors’ cartel) come from? Is that strictly confidential? How could we investigate if we don’t have a list of witnesses?”

Remember what your predecessor, Simeon Marcelo, did after he received an uncertified document from the US Customs reporting the arrest of Maj. Gen. Carlos F. Garcia’s sons for trying to smuggle more than a hundred thousand dollars into the US?

He didn’t bellyache about the paucity of anything. He didn’t ask to be spoon-fed information. He didn’t ask the US Customs to authenticate the document they sent him. When the Armed Forces of the Philippines refused to cooperate with his investigation of Gen. Garcia, he subpoenaed the general’s records. He acted with dispatch, without getting hung up on side issues like those you sprung on Sen. Panfilo Lacson:

“We don’t have a copy of the list. In the interest of justice, where did the information come from? Cooperate with us. Tell us the source. Did it really come from the World Bank? Who gave you this list?”

Lady Protector, I am not among those who question your integrity, who accuse of you of being a stooge of Bonnie and Clyde. I’m simply someone who wants to know, “Which part of your mandate don’t you understand?”

Hugs and kisses,

MB

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