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IN NUMBERS: Is there progress in fighting corruption?

IN NUMBERS: Is there progress in fighting corruption?
If conviction and case disposal rates are good indicators of fighting corruption, how do the Sandiganbayan and Ombudsman fare?

MANILA, Philippines – How will the country solve the problem of corruption? President Benigno Aquino III has identified a solution: conviction of erring public officials.

“I keep stressing to those agencies directly involved that the key to success is not filing cases but actually getting convictions,” Aquino said when asked about the status of corruption in the Philippines during a CEO conference in October 2015.

Agencies being referred to by the president include the Office of the Ombudsman – which receives complaints against public offices, officials, and employees – and the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan – which handles and decides on corruption cases against those in government.

If conviction is a good indicator of solving the long-time issue of corruption, then the administration is on a roll. Based on data available online, the Ombudsman has been witnessing since 2010 a continuous increase in conviction rates in cases transmitted to the Sandiganbayan and other courts.

Year Number of cases
with decision rendered
Number of cases
with conviction
2015 157 117 75%
2014 97 36 37%
2013 93 46 49.5
2012 118 54 45.8
2011 342 114 33.3
2010 121 40 33.1

An interesting spike was seen in 2015, when the conviction rate hit a high 75%.

In an interview with Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera, he said this trend is indeed a good indicator of the administration’s anti-corruption campaign. “We are aggressively pursuing the cases filed in courts as well as ensuring the enforcement of administrative decisions of the dismissal and sanctions issued by the Ombudsman,” he said.

Case backlog

But while there has been an increase in conviction rates, the two agencies have yet to work on the speed with which cases are disposed. Data from the two agencies reveal that a high number of cases remains pending after each year.

Year Number of
case workload
Number of
cases resolved
2015 3,482 276 7.93%
2014 3,370 277 8.22%
2013 3,342 480 14.36%
2012 2,662 363 13.64%
Year Number of
case workload
Number of
cases resolved
2015 14,058 6,730 47.87%
2014 14,951 6,236 41.71%
2013 16,496 6,691 40.56%
2012 16,399 6,813 41.55%

The two agencies have criticized each other over delays in the handling of cases.

For their part, Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang explained that case disposal data should not be the sole indicator of their performance. “The number of resolutions we issued in 2015 on pending incidents in various cases was more than 3 times the number of case disposal,” she said.

To address the backlog, Aquino approved a law in 2015 that increased the number of Sandiganbayan divisions from 5 to 7, and appointed two new justices for each additional division.

Meanwhile, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said that the amount of backlog in her office has been declining, and that she hopes to hit a zero backlog shortly before her term ends in 2018.

Unfortunately, the last few years have seen high-profile cases filed with these two agencies – the pork barrel scam involving lawmakers and a plunder case involving former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Both cases have yet to be decided with finality.

Will this happen under the next administration? –

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