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Yes, a Duterte commission can probe Ombudsman corruption


LIFE'S INSPIRATIONS: “… Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God...” (John 3:20-21, the Holuy Bible).


YES, A DUTERTE COMMISSION CAN PROBE OMBUDSMAN CORRUPTION: Can President Duterte lawfully create a commission that would investigate corruption at the Office of the Ombudsman, considering that this Office of the Ombudsman was established by the 1987 Constitution as a body that is independent of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government?

Many lawyers are saying, no, the President cannot establish a commission or any other office or agency under the Office of the President to investigate corruption at the Office of the Ombudsman, either because the Office of the Ombudsman is an independent Constitutional agency, or because a Presidential commission would undermine the work of the Ombudsman.

I do respect those views, but, as far as I am concerned, however, there are sufficient Constitutional and jurisprudential bases that would allow the President to create a commission that would investigate corruption at the Office of the Ombudsman, or to simply launch a presidential investigation, by himself or by his duly-designated investigators, against the graft agency.


PROBE ALLOWED BY 1987 CHARTER AND SC DECISION: The Constitutional basis favoring a presidential commission to investigate the Office of the Ombudsman could be found under Sections 1 and 17 of Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution. Section 1 provides that “(T)he executive power shall be vested in the President of the Philippines.” Section 17, on the other hand, in its second sentence, mandates that the President “shall ensure that the laws shall be faithfully executed.”

Taken together, these two Constitutional provisions give the President of the Philippines---at this point, President Duterte---the prime duty of seeing to it that the government as a whole would serve and protect the Filipino people, maintain peace and order, protect life, liberty and property, and promote as well the general welfare.

The President must perform all of these duties and responsibilities because they are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy, as the Supreme Court itself ruled in the case of Ferdinand Marcos, et. al. vs. Hon. Raul Manglapus, et. al., G.R. No. 88211, September 15, 1989, where the right of then President Cory Aquino to bar the return of Marcoses to the Philippines was upheld by the Court.


“EXECUTIVE POWER” INCLUDES THE RIGHT TO PROBE CORRUPTION: Explaining its decision, the Supreme Court, through Associate Justice (and former UP College of Law Dean) Irene Cortez, said the exercise by the President of the so-called “executive power” imposes upon him the obligation to consider all of the foregoing principles, and he must in fact adhere to them. The foregoing duties given to the President are not “empty words”, the Court said, so that in making any decision as President of the Republic, he must follow them.

Without any doubt, investigating corruption in the Office of the Ombudsman is a matter affecting peace and order, and involves the protection of life, liberty and property, as well as the promotion of the general welfare. Under the Constitution and existing laws, the Office of the Ombudsman is supposed to be the lead government agency in the fight against corruption by government officials and employees.

Indeed, good government can only come from honest government officials employees, and honesty in government service is in turn largely assured by an efficient and graft-free Office of the Ombudsman. Since there is a widespread perception that cases are fixed, for fat fees, by Ombudsman officials and employees, it is the President's duty, obligation, and responsibility to investigate, whether by himself, or by a commission.


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