With the recent spate of controversies involving the Office of the Ombudsman, Bohol First District Cong. Rene Relampagos is pushing for the amendment of a provision of the law which created the office with the filing of House Bill 4047 last Tuesday.
Restating the declaration of policy of R.A. 6770, he said that public officials must always be held accountable to the people, serve with responsibility, integrity, loyalty, efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.
“But as the State’s bulwark against graft and corruption and other misdeeds in public office or government service, the Office of the Ombudsman should ensure that the legal process should only be employed in the exercise of justice and not as an instrument of political harassment,” Relampagos said.
The First District solon proposes to amend paragraph 2 of Section 26 of R.A. 6770 by specifying a period within which the Office of the Ombudsman must take action on the complaints submitted to it.
As the law presently stands, because no period is given, the parties to the complaint may not be current with the status of the case or as to the decision or resolution of the Ombudsman, the Boholano solon said.
“Thus, a situation may stand where the findings of the office are used, wittingly or unwittingly, to politically harass an opposing party or parties. Or a situation may also exist where the parties concerned are left to speculate on supposed updates of the case given by an ‘insider or colluding entity within the Office of the Ombudsman’ when the case may have already been dismissed by said office,” he added.
To prevent the occurrence of such incidences, the congressman proposes that the Office of the Ombudsman must act on the complaint within 72 hours from the date of receiving the complaint. If the case is found to be baseless, it should be dismissed and the complainant must be informed within fifteen days of such dismissal, informing him of the reasons therefor.
Conversely, the bill proposes that if the Ombudsman finds reasonable grounds to investigate the case, a summary of the complaint must be given to the respondent officer or employee, who must then submit a written answer under oath, within 72 hours from receipt of the summary.
In any event of dismissal, a period of fifteen days is proposed within which the parties to the complaint must be informed of such, without prejudice to any motion or appeal they may legally make.