International Development Law Organization

Integrity and anti-corruption in the Philippines

13 Sep 2017

With rapidly growing economic and social sectors, the improvement of its justice system is key to the Philippines securing the status of a newly developed country. IDLO has been implementing a program in the Philippines to enhance the competency of prosecutors with a view to increasing the successful disposition of cases against public officials and efficiently addressing corruption.

Supported by the United States Department of State, IDLO delivered eight training workshops on case analysis, legal research and legal writing to the Office of the Ombudsman in 2016 and 2017. Held in three locations – Manila, Cebu and Davao – 244 Ombudsman lawyers participated in the training, 55% of which were female. 

“The overall objective of IDLO in the Philippines is first and foremost to capacitate and enhance the skills of Ombudsman lawyers. Corruption hampers the progress of rule of law and development, and this holds true in the Philippines. Anti-corruption agencies such as the Office of the Ombudsman should continuously adapt to challenging times. IDLO’s project clearly demonstrated that enhancing the capacities of Ombudsman lawyers greatly contributes to the fight against corruption.”

Cathleen Cagaanan, Field Program Coordinator, IDLO Philippines

What did you learn from the training on case analysis and legal writing?

“From the training, there are a lot of things I have learned. To think that I have been a lawyer for almost 22 years, and 17 years in the Office of the Ombudsman. I realize that there are a lot of things to be learned. And there is a constant need for updating. Here I got updated on cases, on jurisprudence, on new rules, on making resolutions. And get rid of the old habits, of making old and long resolutions, of archaic words – here you are being taught to simplify your work. Also, what I liked most, that I learned these things from the authorities themselves.”

Cezar Tirol, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer III, Office of the Ombudsman

“It benefited my work in the sense that I now learned how to focus, how to organize, especially in legal writing, and also determine what are those important factors that need to be considered. Because sometimes, in the pleadings of the parties normally they will raise all the answers, all the issues that they think are necessary, but actually are not necessary in the resolution of the cases.”

Myla Teologia, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer III, Office of the Ombudsman

How did the training benefit you in your work?

 

Anti-corruption efforts make a difference for ordinary citizens

The training culminated in a symposium in July 2017, where IDLO convened over 100 Ombudsman lawyers as well as international experts to discuss best practices on integrity initiatives. A key theme of the symposium was the powerful impact that anti-corruption efforts can have on the lives of ordinary citizens. 

“Around the world, corruption slows economic growth and development, and impedes any government’s ability to deliver basic services, such as transportation, communication, health and education. (…) So, when we fight corruption we are not just fighting for the rule of law and for good governance. We are also fighting for the most vulnerable people, and most vulnerable Filipinos, and to help them realize a better life down the road.”

David Whiting, Political Counsellor, United States Department of State

“Public sector corruption of course is a significant problem. It’s not just unjust in the sense that people get what they don’t deserve, it’s also very wrong in the sense that it represents an enormous cost to the public in foregone taxes, in misused resources, and in some cases, even to people’s deaths through negligence and so on. Obviously it’s not a perfect world, but the Ombudsman of the Philippines does a remarkable job, with a remarkable team of people.”

Ted Hill, Senior Program Development Specialist, IDLO

 

Promoting accountability for corruption

The Office of the Ombudsman in the Philippines has a constitutional mandate to hold public servants and office holders accountable and to combat public sector corruption through the investigation and prosecution of cases. But corruption remains a problem throughout the country.

... Corruption is a social malady that does not end with retribution.

 

“As an independent constitutional office tasked to uphold and promote integrity, transparency and accountability in public service, the Office has been accorded constitutional guarantees that insulate it from political influence and intervention. But, more than these guarantees, the sturdier shield of the Office against external influences is the premium it puts on the rule of law, which keeps it firm in reinforcing a government of laws, and never of men.

At the institutional level, the Office has formulated its own policy thrust and priority agenda which include the following eight-point priorities:

  1. Disposition of high profile cases;
  2. Zero-backlog;
  3. Improved “survival” rate of fact-finding;
  4. Enforced monitoring of referred cases;
  5. Improved responsiveness of public assistance;
  6. Improved anti-corruption policy and program coordination among sectors;
  7. Rationalization of the functional structure of the Office; and
  8. Enhanced transparency and credibility.

With these bold commitments, the Office has adopted a three-pronged approach as an operational strategy through punitive, preventive, and promotional means. These approaches affirm that corruption is a social malady that does not end with retribution. They recognize the ability of people to be disciplined and controlled through corruption prevention measures. In implementing this three-pronged approach, the Office works with an informed citizenry that serves as an auxiliary shield, strengthening the ability of the Office to protect the nation against abuses and corrupt practices."

Hon. Conchita Carpio Morales, Ombudsman of the Philippines

 

Ombudsman lawyers play a key role in building the rule of law

Combatting corruption is a crucial step in boosting citizens’ confidence in the justice system. The training and symposium served not only to enhance the skills and knowledge of Ombudsman lawyers, but also to remind them of their important role in building the rule of law in the Philippines.

“You – the participants in today’s symposium – and your work are the key to improving accountability and limiting corrupt practices within the justice sector. You will be the power behind the judicial application of international and regional conventions, to disrupt transnational crime, fight corruption, and dismantle illicit networks.”

David Whiting, Political Counsellor, United States Department of State

You - the participants in today's symposium - and your work are the key to improving accountability and limiting corrupt practices within the justice sector.

“Time and again, it has been proven that good governance anchored on justice and the rule of law plays a vital role in attaining economic growth and sustainable development. Indeed, there is no stopping the benefits of the seeds of good governance – it will reap what it has planted.”

Hon. Conchita Carpio Morales, Ombudsman of the Philippines
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