AN OPEN LETTER TO OMBUDSMAN MERCEDITAS GUTIERREZ

9 December 2008 Dear Ombudsman Gutierrez, Today, as the world observes International Anti-Corruption Day, we urge you to commemorate this occasion by taking stock of the Office of the Ombudsman’s implementation of its mission to “promote integrity and efficiency and high ethical standards in public service through proactive approaches in graft prevention and public assistance, prompt investigation of complaints and aggressive prosecution of cases filed against erring public officials and employees.” As we take a close look at the Office of the Ombudsman’s track record under your leadership, it is with deep dismay that we note the following: 1. the inaction or downright mishandling of high-profile cases involving large-scale corruption that have been brought before your office. The cases relating to the Nani Perez-IMPSA kickbacks, Comelec-Megapacific computerization deal, Joc-Joc Bolante fertilizer scam, and overpriced Cebu lampposts, to name a few, have floundered or been dropped due to technicalities. 2. the failure to improve the Office of the Ombudsman’s organizational capacity to efficiently perform its investigative and prosecutorial functions. After your office received support funds from development partners and the budget department, were you able to hire and develop more field investigators and prosecutors? Is it true that talented lawyers are leaving your office because there is no merit system for investigators, prosecutors, and staff who are doing excellent work? What happened to the case tracking program that was developed for the Office of the Ombudsman? 3. the downtrend in the control of corruption indicators and sincerity rating of the Office of the Ombudsman in international and local surveys. Though it is easy to brush aside these surveys as measures of perception and not reality, the common view is that corruption has worsened and that you have yet to prove that you are fully committed to fulfilling your mandate. More alarming is the widespread perception that you have been less interested in prosecuting erring public officials than in protecting them. At this juncture of our nation’s history, when the problem of corruption has become one of the gravest threats to Philippine democracy and society, the Office of the Ombudsman is being called upon to be a paragon of independence and objectivity, to stand up for the rule of law, and most importantly, to be on the side of right. Will you finally rise up to the profound challenge and responsibility of your position? Or shall you continue to stand by and allow the reign of brazen corruption to hold sway over our country? Coalition Against Corruption www.cac.org.ph hulihin. litisin. ikulong. Contact: CAC Secretariat, phone no.: 751-1144