Saturday, 21 April 2012 12:02
The Commission on Audit and the Office of the Ombudsman have formed a strategic partnership in the fight against graft and corruption through the launching of the COA-OMB Joint Investigation Team.
COA Chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido Tan and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) as they formalized on Wednesday the creation of the joint team tasked to fast-track the investigation and prosecution of cases of corruption in public offices arising from COA fraud audit reports.
Collaborating their anti-corruption initiatives as members of the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC), COA and OMB, through the joint investigation team, aim 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.
”With the Office of the Ombudsman and the COA working together, we are confident that these cases will finally be resolved, the names of innocent individuals cleared, and the accountable officials meted the appropriate penalties,” Ombudsman Morales said.
”We are constitutionally mandated in our respective capacities to ensure accountability and integrity in public office,” COA Chairperson Pulido Tan added. “We will thus attend to these cases with the highest degree also of accountability and integrity.”
This institutional partnership is part of an ongoing effort to enhance and expand mutual assistance between COA and the OMB under the leaderships of Morales and Pulido-Tan.
Under the terms of the MOA, which will run for three years, the two offices will share resources and expertise in the successful processing of cases under joint investigation.
”We in the COA will do the gathering of facts reported to our office, assess and rectify them, then we pass these to the OMB for the prosecution and filing of cases against the erring public officials,” explained Pulido-Tan.
”We are deeply mindful of the 'culture of impunity' which is one of the most impelling factors in the incidence of graft and corruption in the country where it is often bewailed that only 'small fish' get punished and the 'big fish' get away to yet another adventure, emboldening the next-in-ranks to help themselves in adventures of their own until they, too, become big fish, and the cycle goes on. This culture of impunity must go, if we are to restore public office as truly a public trust,” Morales and Pulido-Tan said in a joint statement.
”Complaints involving high officials of the land, plunderous misuse of public lands, and other cases highly impacting the drive against graft and corruption, must be attended to with dispatch and investigated with the highest degree of integrity, independence and competence,” the two officials added.
”If COA and the Office of the Ombudsman, the two most important agencies, join together, it would bring us to the 'daang matuwid' (straight path),” said Fr. Gerry Orbos in his homily during the Holy Mass that preceded the event.
Fr. Orbos also blessed the new office of the investigation team located within the COA premises after the ceremonial ribbon-cutting led by Morales and Pulido-Tan.
The designated focal persons for the COA-OMB Joint Investigation Team are COA Chief Executive Staff Attorney Gilbert G. Kintanar and OMB Deputy Special Prosecutor John I.C. Turalba.
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