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‘OMB should hire additional 2,000 probers’

Former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo said yesterday the Office of the Ombudsman is not winning the war against graft and corruption.

Marcelo made the assessment when he addressed the 3rd Ombudsman Integrity Lecture Series at the Asian Development Bank.

He acknowledged, however, that OMB Chair Conchita Carpio Morales has been making a great stride in fighting the menace.

Marcelo noted the OMB is facing two formidable obstacles in effectively solving the problem – lack of field investigators and justices at the Sandiganbayan to hear the cases.

He said the anti-graft court should be expanded via the creation of more divisions to speed up the deliberation of cases.

He noted that due to shortage of justices, it takes more than 10 years for the Sandiganbayan to finish a single case, thus in many instances the accused had already died when the verdict was issued.

He said justice should be meted swiftly and decisively so that the offender will realize the gravity of his evil deeds.

According to Marcelo,  the anti-graft agency should hire an additional 2,000 probers to speed up the gathering of evidence and the eventual prosecution of the suspects before the courts.

Records showed the OMB has less than 100 fact-finding investigators.

Marcelo said the solution to the twin problems boils down to only one thing: more funding.

But he said the additional expenses can easily be recovered through seizure of the ill-gotten wealth of grafters.

Marcelo said sending swiftly to jail grafters is a strong deterrent against future shenanigans that cause the government to lose annually billions of pesos in revenues.

Morales, who attentively listened to Marcelo’s appraisal, refused to make a comment saying “it was his observation,” adding the OMB is very different now from what it was during Marcelo’s short stay in the agency.