TO avoid being veritably useless, the Office of the Ombudsman should seriously use its power to conduct motu proprio fact-finding investigation to go after public officials who have been implicated by President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte behind the proliferation of illegal drugs.
House Committee on Dangerous Drugs chairman Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said this after House deputy minority leader Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza and Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin questioned the “deafening silence” of the Office of the Ombudsman in conducting fact-finding probe against public officials who are allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.
“I strongly agree that the Office of the Ombudsman should motu propio conduct investigation, otherwise they will become useless in discharging their duties and responsibilities,” Barbers pointed out.
Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop, who chairs the House Committee on Public Order and Safety, said the Ombudsman should use its motu proprio power in support of President Duterte’s war on drugs.
“The Office of the Ombudsman has that power (motu proprio) under the law creating it. It can even act on anonymous complaints against public officials. There is a process that it observes,” said Acop, a lawyer and ex-police general who served as comptroller during the time of then Philippine National Police Chief Director General Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, now a three-term senator.
Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, president of the Party List Coalition (PLC), urged the Office of the Ombudsman to coordinate with the concerned authorities in getting vital information that will help the investigation against public officials allegedly protecting the illegal drug trade.
“It would be better if the Ombudsman should get leads from our law enforcement agencies rather than conducting separate probes to save on time, expense and efforts,” said Batocabe, another lawyer.
“But let our enforcement agencies investigate and file appropriate cases before Ombudsman,” Batocabe added.
With the limited manpower, Parañaque City Rep. Gus Tambunting, who chairs the House Committee on Games and Amusement, said the investigation of the Office of the Ombudsman on the alleged involvement of some government officials to illegal drug trade should be fair and square.
“While the Ombudsman has the power to investigate, it must always be based on some initial facts. How do we determine for example who these public officials are? With its limited resources, the Ombudsman should be given something to start with to be more effective,” Tambunting explained.