Wanted: 100 crack lawyers for Ombudsman
The new Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales is augmenting the antigraft agency’s workforce with more than a hundred new lawyers in order to fast-track the resolution of cases.
And not just any lawyer, but lawyers with “unquestionable integrity,” competence and experience, to serve as graft investigators and prosecutors as well as assistant special prosecutors, according to Morales’ shopping list.
The vacancies and specs will be announced soon on the Office of the Ombudsman’s official website, a statement from her office said.
According to Pelagio Apostol, the deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas, Morales has promised to expedite the recruitment of new personnel, which is one of the measures seen to improve the agency’s performance.
The lack of prosecutors is one reason why cases have languished in the Office of the Ombudsman, Apostol said in an earlier interview.
There are several high-profile cases before the Office of the Ombudsman, including those involving former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The agency has been conducting a fact-finding investigation into Arroyo’s liability for the alleged misuse of P728 million in fertilizer funds in 2004.
Plunder cases have also been filed against the former President over the alleged misuse of so-called intelligence funds from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
Morales, a recently retired Supreme Court justice, is making an intensive assessment and review of the systems and programs of the Office of the Ombudsman, the statement from her office said.
She has also been conducting consultations and strategic planning with her staff as part of the transition to her new office, the statement said.
The country’s chief graft buster said the Office of the Ombudsman is committed to transparency and would keep the public informed about its program of action. The agency will be announcing its concrete plans once these have become final, she said.
Morales’ predecessor, Merceditas Gutierrez, was plagued by accusations that she had sat on cases, especially the criminal complaints involving Arroyo and her allies.
Gutierrez, who has denied the accusations, was impeached by the House of Representatives last March and resigned shortly before she could stand trial in the Senate in May.
On assuming her new post earlier this month, Morales told the agency’s employees that she would look after their welfare but that she would expect them to perform.
As for nonperforming employees, “you know what will happen,” she warned.
Ombudsman investigators and prosecutors are ranked I, II and III, with salary grades of 26, 27 and 28.
An officer with salary grade 26 earns at least P50,334 a month; salary grade 27, at least P54,088 a month; and salary grade 28, at least P58,132 a month. Special prosecutors have similar salary grade classifications.
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