Press Release
November 7, 2006

Drilon laments Ombudsman's failure
to curb corruption despite budget support

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Franklin M. Drilon today deplored the failure of the Office of the Ombudsman to improve the country's corruption perception index despite the increased budgetary support from the Senate.

"This is quite unfortunate because the Senate and I have not been remiss in supporting your budget," Drilon pointed out to Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and other officials of the Office of the Ombudsman during the Finance Committee deliberation on their 2007 proposed budget Tuesday morning.

"In 2005, under my leadership (as Senate President), it was only the Office of the Ombudsman in the entire bureaucracy that received an increase in their budget," Drilon added. "The perception index of Transparency International indicated that we are not improving at all. In fact, we are deteriorating."

"You keep on saying you lack prosecutors, you need investigators. Congress has not been remiss in addressing this. In fact, there was a time when you were the only agency in the entire bureaucracy that got an increase. And it came from the Senate. That budget was the only increase granted in the entire bureaucracy," Drilon said.

On a scale of zero to ten, the Philippines got a score of 2.5 percent on the recent country corruption perception index," Drilon noted. "Out of the 163 countries, we are adjudged to be the 121st most corrupt in this world. Even if we grant that you are doing your mandate of curbing corruption, which many quarters will debate with you, neither are you being perceived as doing your job. This affects adversely the confidence of the people in our ability to govern," Drilon added.

A report released by Transparency International yesterday showed the Philippines ranking 121 in the 2006 Corruption Perception Index among 163 countries of the world. The Philippines ranked 117 last year and dropped four notches this year, sharing a rank with Russia, Rwanda Nepal, the Honduras, Swaliland, Benin, Gambia and Guyana.

The lower the ranking, the worse the perceived corruption is in that country. In 2004, the Philippines ranked 102 of 146 countries surveyed, the report noted

During the budget deliberation of the P1.4 billion proposed budget of the Office of the Ombudsman for 2007, Drilon lashed at the Office of the Ombudsman for their failure is addressing the corruption problem in the country.

"I was looking at your report, you have been authorized in 2005, (to fill up) 430 (vacant) positions, you only hired 250 personnel. You still have to hire 180. And we will approve again 721 new positions and possibly another 500 or so stated by the House. Your absorptive capacity is put into question because of the performance insofar as filling up 430 positions authorized in 2005," Drilon said.

"The Office of the Ombudsman is mandated in general to address corruption in our government. That is the constitutional mandate of this office. Therefore, not only must it effectively work to curb corruption, but it must also be perceived to curb corruption by the public. Because the level of confidence in this government would depend upon the perception of the people of the extent of corruption in our officialdom," Drilon said.

"Let me also tell you that that your office is perceived to be influenced by political considerations. That is the perception of the general public. One glaring example is the most recent case of Mayor Binay where the perception is that it was politically motivated," Drilon told the officials.

When asked by Drilon what her office was doing in order to curb public corruption, Ombudsman Gutierrez replied: "Your Honor, I inherited about 10,000 cases. Slowly but surely, we are trying to expedite these cases that have been pending in the office for so many years. We are paying attention to high profile cases. We would like to dispose of it as soon as practicable within the limitations."

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