AMPLIFICATION OF THE POLICY THRUST
AND 8-POINT PRIORITIES FOR 2011-2018:
Our policy thrust, in the Office of the Ombudsman for 2011-2018, is to enhance efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, accountability, credibility and responsiveness in the performance of the mandate and functions of the Office towards the improvement of corruption prevention and control.
Along this thrust, we shall vigorously pursue the following 8-point priorities:
1. Disposition of high-profile cases
Under the law, the Ombudsman shall give priority to complaints filed against high-ranking government officials and/or those occupying supervisory positions, complaints involving grave offenses as well as complaints involving large sums of money and/or properties (last paragraph of Sec. 15, R.A. 6770). As the lead anti-corruption agency, the Ombudsman should also give the highest priority to the disposition of cases of grand corruption, as distinguished from petty or bureaucratic corruption, and those which are highly publicized.
For purposes for classifying complaints and cases that need to be prioritized, the term large sums of money refers to those where the amount of money or property involved is at least 10 million pesos. Celebrated cases also refer to those investigated by the Senate, House of Representative or fact-finding commissions created by the President which attracted considerable media attention. Grand corruption cases refer either to those involving the highest national officials in the land or those where the alleged network of corruption is national in scope.
Considering the limited resources of the office, the Ombudsman shall concentrate on the disposition of these complaints and cases by effectively reducing the volume of non-priority complaints and cases (i.e, non-corruption cases, cases that are trivial or frivolous, and those which can be referred to other forums) in its workload. To be more responsive in the discharge of our mandate, priority complaints and cases shall be disposed expeditiously within the timeframes prescribed under the rules.
2. Zero backlog
The Ombudsman should be efficient in the discharge of its mandate to investigate reports of official wrongdoing and to act on all requests for assistance from the public. It shall ensure zero backlog in the investigation of criminal cases, adjudication of administrative cases, and disposition of all grievances and requests for assistance.
Zero backlog will depend on the collective efficiency of the entire manpower of the Ombudsman. It involves not only speeding up the disposition of complaints or cases but maintaining efficiency, effectiveness, diligence, and integrity of all personnel who are accountable in every step of the internal processes of the Ombudsman. Zero backlog seeks to end a culture of delays that erodes public trust and credibility of the Ombudsman process.
There is backlog when cases are not disposed within the prescribed timeframes under the law and rules. Toward this end, all cases must be resolved within 30 days from the date of submission for resolution/decision, pursuant to the rules. Cases involving retiring public officials and employees shall be prioritized and disposed with dispatch, pursuant to Republic Act No. 10154.
3. Improved “survival” rate of fact-finding
The quality of fact-finding investigation in terms of evidence gathering shall be improved following the standards of fair, impartial, and expeditious investigation in the pursuit of justice. The deterrent effect of investigations on corruption incidence in government can be maximized if official abuse is punished accordingly. All completed fact-finding investigations which recommend the filing of criminal charges against erring public officials and employees shall ensure that resulting cases filed in court shall not be dismissed on demurrer. Those which recommend the administrative indictment of erring public officials and employees shall ascertain their conviction. The Field investigation Office and counterpart bureaus in area/sectoral offices shall be strengthened in the conduct of investigations utilizing such specialized techniques as forensic engineering, accounting, and auditing.
4. Enforced monitoring of referred cases
The Ombudsman shall be prudent in the exercise of its authority to conduct investigations. The exceptions under Section 20 of R.A. 6770 (The Ombudsman Act of 1989) shall be judiciously observed. Complaints and cases that are denominated as non-corruption and/or those cognizable by other forums shall be referred to the proper forum for appropriate action. A system for monitoring these referred complaints and cases under Section 23(2) of R.A 6770 shall be established to ensure no delay without just cause in the termination of the appropriate administrative proceedings.
Criminal cases referred to the National Prosecution Service of the Department of Justice for prosecution in the regular trial courts shall be monitored until their final disposition in court. Ombudsman decisions in administrative cases indorsed to the heads of concerned agencies for implementation of the penalty shall be strictly monitored to ensure compliance.
5. Improved responsiveness of public assistance
The Ombudsman shall render meaningful, responsive, and relevant public assistance. All front-line service units shall extend prompt, courteous and adequate service to the public. Efforts should be made to meet, if not exceed, the reasonable expectations of the public. A system for active handling of customer feedback and redress of grievance, including integration into the performance evaluation of the concerned action officer, shall be established to ensure compliance with this standard of public service delivery.
Requests for assistance (RAS) and cases referred for mediation shall be disposed expeditiously. The concerned action officer shall take sufficient actions under Section 26(3) and (4) of R.A. 6770 to address the request or grievance.
6. Improved anti-corruption policy and programme coordination among sectors
The Ombudsman shall continue to adopt a three-pronged approach in the war against corruption: enforcement, prevention and anti-corruption promotion. A more effective corruption prevention policy shall be formulated to improve public perceptions ratings and contribute to improving the national competitiveness ranking. Toward this end, all existing anti-corruption programmes and projects shall be evaluated for effectiveness and strategic alignment with medium-term plans and international commitments.
A multi-sectoral strategy shall be devised to mobilize the support of all stakeholders for a more coherent anti-corruption programme. The Ombudsman shall ensure dynamic and productive policy and programme coordination among the different sectors.
7. Rationalization of the functional structure of the Office
The existing functional structure of the Office of the Ombudsman shall be reviewed to identify gaps and overlaps in the discharge of various functions. An accounting of personnel and other resources shall be made to rationalize task assignment and division of work processes and remove redundancy. All issues and concerns affecting personnel shall be sufficiently addressed subject to legal and resource restrictions.
Procedures, systems, rules and administrative policies shall also assessed for cost-efficiency and/or compliance with the Anti-Red Tape Act. The Ombudsman shall adopt such structure, staffing pattern, systems, and procedures that are uniform in its central and area/sectoral offices.
A metrics-based results-oriented performance management system shall be adopted as an accountability and incentive mechanism for officials and employees. The present performance appraisal system shall be revisited to reflect desired performance outcomes. A similar system for measuring the performance of managerial employees up to the level of Assistance Ombudsman or Deputy Special Prosecutor or even the Ombudsman shall be put up. Appropriate management action shall be taken against all non-performing officials and personnel.
8. Enhanced transparency and credibility
The Ombudsman shall observe transparency in all its dealing with the public. The existing policy on sharing of information regarding the cases being investigated or prosecuted by the Ombudsman shall be reviewed. Policies regulating the disclosure of information on recruitment, promotion, and personnel action; procurement and use of funds and resources; and the discharge of other functions, shall also be reviewed.
The Ombudsman shall also enhance its credibility by adopting such strategies and measures to improve public perceptions reflected in surveys and media reports.