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Ombudsman posts higher disposition rate for 2016

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman posted a higher disposition rate of cases, from 48% in 2015 to 52% in 2016, according to data recently released by the anti-graft body.

In total, the Ombudsman now has 6,254 pending cases on its plate which is a 68% drop from the more than 19,000 cases it had in 2011.

Their data show that since 2013, the office has been consistently reducing its workload.

For 2016 alone, the Ombudsman disposed of 6,658 cases – a bulk of it or 71% were dismissed cases, meaning almost a third of the cases last year did not reach court.

16% of the disposed cases in 2016 were cases wherein the Ombudsman already imposed a penalty. Of this number, 37% involved dismissal from service, while 43% involved suspensions for more than one month.

4% of the disposed cases were for filing with the Sandiganbayan.

A higher disposition rate from the Ombudsman is a positive note for the judicial system that is always criticized for being snail-paced.

However, the data released by the body is only quantitative, and is not indicative of whether there are improvements in holding corrupt officials accountable. (READ: Plunder cases in the Philippines: Was anyone punished?)

Since the end of 2016 to early this year, there were some high-profile cases filed by the Ombudsman which were dismissed by the Sandiganbayan, the most prominent being the junked P50-million plunder case against former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn "Joc-joc" Bolante over the fertilizer fund scam.

In dismissing some of the cases, the Sandiganbayan questioned the sufficiency of the information filed by the Ombudsman.

Rappler has repeatedly tried to set an interview with Special Prosecutor Wendell Barreras-Sulit to discuss the quality of cases being forwarded to the court, but she has yet to respond. Sulit will retire on Friday, March 10.

Former president Benigno Aquino III fired Sulit in 2012 for approving the plea bargain agreement of retired Major General Carlos Garcia, but she was reinstated to head the Ombudsman's prosecutorial department in December by the Court of Appeals. – Rappler.com

 

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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