The Department of Justice (DOJ) has created a secretariat which will accept and evaluate reports of government corruption from the public.
“Nag-organize na kaagad kami ng isang secretariat para dito sa purpose na ito kasi alam namin na dadagsain kami ng mga sumbong ng mga reklamo (We immediately organized a secretariat for this purpose because we are anticipating that we will be receiving numerous reports of government corruption from the public),” DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said during a radio interview on DZBB on Wednesday.
President Duterte had earlier issued a memorandum to Guevarra to expand the role of the task force which investigated anomalies at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to investigate all corruption in the entire government.
Guevarra has urged the public to report all corruption activities in the government to the DOJ-led task force.
“Kaya itong aming secretariat ang magiging function niya ay tanggapin lahat ng mga ganitong klaseng reklamo at i-sort out nila, i-evalute nila, at ipa-prioritize kung alin ang karapata-dapat na bigyan ng immediate priority attention ng task force (The function of the secretariat will be to receive, sort, evaluate, and prioritize which complaints will be brought to the attention of the task force),” he said.
Guevarra said the decision to form a secretariat was reached during his meeting on Tuesday with DOJ undersecretaries and assistant secretaries as well as with National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Officer-in-Charge Director Eric Distor and Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento regarding the corruption investigation that will be conducted by the task force.
“Bukod sa mga sumbong na manggaling sa mga tao ay kami mismo gagawa ng sarili naming inisyatibo para halungkatin ang mga ganitong mga corrupt activities (Aside from reports from the public, the task force will also have its own initiative in uncovering corrupt activities),” he said.
The secretary said that the task force will look into reports released by the Commission on Audit (COA), investigative reports made by the media, as well as inquiries conducted by the Senate and House of Representatives.
The task force is led by the DOJ and consists of the NBI, the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP), the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), the National Prosecution Service (NPS), the DOJ’s Office of Cybercrime (OOC), and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
Guevarra said the task force will invite again the three independent constitutional bodies–COA, Civil Service Commission (CSC), and the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB), to work with the task force.
Because of the large scope of the investigation, the secretary said the task force will prioritize its probe of corruption.
“Ayon doon sa memorandum na inissue ng Presidente sa akin, i-consider ng task force yung gravity or magnitude nung anomalya o nung corrupt activity (The memorandum that the President issued to me states that the task force should consider the gravity or magnitude of the corrupt activity). So we’re talking here about values, magnitude of the funds involved,” the DOJ chief said.
“Nabanggit din doon sa memo yung possible impact on the delivery of government service to be considered in choosing kung alin ang iimbestigahan nitong task force (The memo also mentioned that the task force should also consider the possible impact on the delivery of government service in choosing which corrupt activity to investigate),” he added.
Guevarra said the task force has identified the government agencies it will focus on in its investigation — the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) which the President himself identified, the Bureau of Customs (BOC), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and the Land Registration Authority (LRA).
He added that there are already ongoing investigations on PhilHealth and that steps have already been taken to address allegations of corruption at the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).