OMBUDSMAN PLUS COA MOA to intensify probe of grand corruption cases
QUEZON CITY ---- The Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit (COA) inked anew a Memorandum of Agreement to strengthen their institutional partnership on the Joint Investigation Team Cases (JIT cases). Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo signed the MOA in a simple ceremony held at the EDSA Shangri-La in Mandaluyong City on 28 February 2017. Deputy Special Prosecutor Mary Susan Guillermo and Assistant Commissioner Alexander Juliano witnessed the signing ceremony. Also present during the signing were high ranking officials from both agencies, development partners and anti-corruption stakeholders. In her keynote address, Ombudsman Morales said that she expects the fast tracking of JIT cases to meet the people’s expectation for speedy disposition of graft and corruption related offenses. Meanwhile, Chairman Aguinaldo thanked the Ombudsman and the USAID Integrity for Investments Initiative (i3) as development partner, underscoring the importance of the institutional collaboration especially for high value, high profile cases which require prioritization as these involve grand cases of corruption. Under the MOA, JIT cases are fraud audit-related complaints or reports involving at least P100M or its equivalent in kind or in other currencies, graft and corruption cases investigated by the Congress, and other cases imbued with public interest regardless of the amount. In addition, it provided for the establishment of a “JIT Priority Lane” in the Office of the Ombudsman where JIT cases shall be immediately filed, docketed and subjected to preliminary investigation. The MOA is part of the anti-corruption initiatives of the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council presently chaired by Aguinaldo. It will be recalled that in 2012, former COA Chair Grace Pulido-Tan and Ombudsman Morales also signed a MOA to ensure the efficient and successful filing, investigation and prosecution of cases involving graft, corruption and violations of the ethical code of conduct for public officials and government employees. The program ran for three years.