Edna Batacan, defender of Arroyo, Napoles, wants to clean up Ombudsman

Lian Buan
Edna Batacan, defender of Arroyo, Napoles, wants to clean up Ombudsman
The 65-year-old Batacan says she knows the Office of the Ombudsman enough to know that there is also corruption inside

Edna Batacan admits to being an insider at the Office of the Ombudsman, so much so that she claims to know how corruption works inside the country’s anti-graft office.

“That office has become a graft office, I’m a victim also, I know for a fact how it operates. Inordinate delay is contrary to the speedy disposition of cases, they have such a thing as parking fee in that office, when the case is filed and it’s just under preliminary [investigation], they will say okay, I will just keep it on hold, for resolution, keep it on hold then you pay me parking fee,” Batacan said.

Batacan said this on Wednesday, June 20, during the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) public interviews screening her and other applicants for the Ombudsman post, replacing Conchita Carpio Morales.

Batacan, who is 65 years old, worked as an Ombudsman graft prosecutor for years. 

When she resigned, she did not really leave, because she then became a sought-after defense lawyer for public officials, representing former first gentleman Mike Arroyo, alleged pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim Napoles, and even President Rodrigo Duterte in their corruption cases. (READ: The search for the next Ombudsman)

Batacan also comes from the influential network of San Beda lawyers. Her connections are definitely there, even telling the JBC that she has a “close friendship” with Duterte.

Her lawyering skills have also been tested through time. After all, she got Duterte cleared of graft  in the Davao City canal project, and Napoles in the controversial Kevlar helmets case. 

Those who know her would say: what is so wrong with being a good defense lawyer? 

Batacan is applying to be Ombudsman, tasked with prosecuting the kind of public officials whom she defended during her private practice.

Is her credibility tainted now, especially since the Ombudsman still handles the Napoles pork barrel scam plunder cases, and cases against Duterte’s son, former Davao City vice mayor Paolo Duterte? 

“Hindi naman kasi I’m 65, at 65, I’m living a legacy to my country. Sa dami ng mga kasong hinahawakan ko, si Janet Napoles ay isa sa mga kaibigan ko, in fact she does not pay me. She does not pay me dahil kaibigan ko siya,” Batacan said.

(Not really because I’m 65, at 65 I’m living a legacy to my country. Of all the many cases I handled, Janet Napoles was one of my friends and in fact she does not pay me. She does not pay me because we are friends.)

Batacan said she wants to “change” the Ombudsman, in particular the Rules of Procedure that provide respondents the right to a speedy disposition of cases. 

This has been the Office’s biggest problem yet, losing cases at the Sandiganbayan for inordinate delay in their investigation.

“I want to change it to the office that it envisions to be. If ever we must die, we all will die, as I told the President, we all must die so if you have something to live for, for your nation, for your children, live a legacy to your country and children. I’m leaving a legacy to my country and to the people of my country,” Batacan said.

Is she confident about her chances because of her connections to Duterte?

Hindi, based on merits pa rin (No, it will still be based on merits),” she said. – Rappler.com

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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.