With less than a year left, DOJ-led task force vows to ramp up anti-corruption efforts

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
With less than a year left, DOJ-led task force vows to ramp up anti-corruption efforts
This file photo shows the Department of Justice office.
Philstar.com / File photo

MANILA, Philippines — With less than a year left for the Task Force against Corruption, the Department of Justice-led panel will ramp up its efforts in its drive anomalous government officials, Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his last State of the Nation Address, admitted that corruption — that he initially vowed to eliminate in six months of his term — remains “endemic in the government” and cannot be stopped.

READ: FULL TEXT: Duterte's 2021 State of the Nation Address

Guevarra, who heads the high-level panel Duterte created last year to bust corruption in the “entire government,” agreed with the president’s admission. “The challenge is to create a framework where corruption will be difficult to thrive such as adopting electronic transactions, reducing red tape, streamlining legal processes, and imposing stiffer penalties,” he said.

The DOJ chief noted that the TFAC was created only through Duterte’s memorandum, which does not have a stronger force of law as with an executive or administrative order.

But Guevarra asserted: “Notwithstanding the absence of express powers, the TFAC will exert greater efforts to help the president in his anti-corruption drive in the remaining months of his administration.”

Duterte’s directive will remain in effect until June 30, 2022, or when he steps down from office.

Eight months since the memorandum, the TFAC has so far received 240 complaints.

Ten of these have been referred to the Office of the Ombudsman for appropriate action or investigation, while another ten were transmitted to anti-graft office as requests for updates on previously filed complaints.

Deputy ombudsmen

Guevarra also said they are hoping to sign next week the memorandum with the Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit on deputy ombudsmen who will be assigned per government agency.

“With the cooperation and support of the OMB, we shall soon deploy DOJ prosecutors and COA auditors as resident ombudsmen in various graft-prone agencies of the government,” he said.

“With deputized resident ombudsmen in place, the TFAC can take more effective action. Although not highly publicized, the task force has been building up a lot of corruption cases reported to us,” Guevarra added.

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