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Wanted: 100 ‘honest’ lawyers

/ 11:14 PM December 13, 2016

(UPDATE) Gerard Mosquera, Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, said on Tuesday that the agency needs “honest lawyers” to fill the remaining 100 vacant posts at the Ombudsman.

He said there were a total of 2,100 positions for the entire office, of which 60% to 70% were filled up. They are still in the process of hiring officers, but as Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales stated in a forum  earlier, it is difficult to hire good lawyers.

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“Because not only should we hire intelligent lawyers, we need to hire honest lawyers, lawyers with integrity,” he said.

Mosquera said that it is easy to check the intelligence of applicants but it is very difficult to check honesty.

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“That’s why we have to be very, very careful because these are permanent positions. Once we put a warm body in this position, theoretically, he or she can stay there until he or she is 65,” he said.

He said that they are doing what they can when it comes to the selection of candidates.

“We do what we do, we use the tools available to us, we investigate them, we conduct background investigation, we run a series of tests, we ask around, we ask former employers, ask classmates, go back to their law schools. We do everything we can because we have to be very, very careful,” he said

Though it slows down the process, Mosquera said that they would rather have a slow process where they can bring in somebody who they can use, and really mobilize against corruption rather than bring in somebody who will be a liability or worst, work against the interest of the agency.

They are only hiring lawyers with three years of experience – down from the previous five years, because they are “losing good people.” It is also required by the law that aspiring Ombudsman investigators and prosecutors should have three years of relevant experience.

“We’re losing good lawyers, they train with us, and then they move on to become judges, to become prosecutors, to be litigation lawyers of big corporations… We’re hoping to address that through a more competitive retirement package,” he said.

On standardization, Mosquera said that they already had submitted proposals to Congress to upgrade the salary structures of Ombudsman lawyers and prosecutors.  They also asked Congress to strengthen the retirement package.

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“If they are in favor, it will allow us not only attract young, honest lawyers but it will allow us to maintain them over the years and really make use of their talents after we train them,” he said.

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