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Bill empowering Ombudsman to freeze ill-gotten wealth filed
Jess Diaz - December 1, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez has filed a bill seeking to empower the Office of the Ombudsman to freeze the illegally acquired wealth of any government official or employee.         

“There is need to further strengthen the Office of the Ombudsman to maximize its ability to resort to asset forfeiture by enabling it to freeze assets in a timely manner,” he said.         

“The ultimate objective is to be able to freeze the proceeds of graft and corruption before they are dissipated and eventually lost. The people are the real losers.”           

Very often, corrupt public officials and employees facing cases before the Office of the Ombudsman or the Sandiganbayan are able to dispose of illegally acquired properties or empty bank deposits, he added.        

Golez said the country is still losing some P280 billion annually to corruption.  “This money could have otherwise been allocated and used for the country’s educational, health, and other basic needs,” he said.         

The bill would introduce three new sections in Republic Act 1379, “An act declaring forfeiture in favor of the state any property found to have been unlawfully acquired by any public officer or employee and providing for the proceedings therefor.”         

One section provides: Whenever any public officer or employee has acquired a property which is manifestly out of proportion to his salary and his other lawful income, said property would be presumed to have been unlawfully acquired.         

Another gives the Office of the Ombudsman the power to freeze illegally acquired properties, including bank accounts, for not more than three months.         

The Office of the Ombudsman may issue the freeze order on its own or upon motion of a complainant.         

The proposed third new section states that if a public officer or employee fails to file his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth within 30 days from assuming office, he is presumed to have no property, asset or business to declare.         

The bill would allow the Office of the Ombudsman to grant immunity from criminal prosecution to any person who testifies to the manner a public officer or employee has unlawfully acquired an asset.         

Golez said for anti-corruption laws to deter corruption, there has to be timely freezing and forfeiture of ill-gotten assets.         

“Any delay in the seizure of these assets will provide a window, no matter how narrow, for the same to be dissipated and placed beyond the reach of the law,” he said.         

Once the illegal assets are dissipated, the anti-corruption laws and the campaign against corruption become ineffective, he added. 

wawa2172 December 1, 2012 9:46pm
Well the motive of Golez is laudable but he know fully well that such bill will not make it at the lower house. The honorable lawmakers won't allow themselves to be fried with their lards. The Pork barrel is the source of unexplained wealth among them and Roy knows this well. I just don't know if Roy is just grandstanding but at least he tried. Do we really need a bill that would freeze the wealth of corrupt government officials when a case is filed? Before the bill is filed can Roy ask the SC if it is constitutional baka ma kuryente na naman tayo. Ombuds Morales will need such power but what is its security net that it wont be use in its implementation. December 1, 2012 4:39pm
Unahin si Golez sa tagal mo na sa congresso tiba tiba kana sa pork barrel.
viscan December 1, 2012 6:43am
We need this bill and we need to expand its coverage to include not only graft and corruption but cases which defraud the Filipino People such as the AMAN, RASUMAN, etc. where the amount involved is so huge! Btw, why the alert signal from investigative and concerned agencies such as the AMLA did not function when huge sum of money was flowing from certain accounts to recipient accounts and when the SEC already sounded its alarm!
frank_slade December 1, 2012 6:42am
No way. With an lapdog Ombudsman as ARROGANT as Conchita Carpio Morales, this law would just be used to harass Noynoy's enemies, perceived, imaginary or otherwise.
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