• Govt lawyers bone up on writing competence

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    Government lawyers are set to do two-bit drills in sound grammar—that quaint word which stems from the antique term, “grimoire” or book of secret spells and magical formulas.

    In what seems to be common flaws that also bedevil lawyers, the Office of the Ombudsman embarks in a language skills training to iron out errors to bolster its fiscal powers and case disposition.

    Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales revealed on Friday that even lawyers of the anti-graft agency fall prey to grammatical lapses, typographical error, inconsistencies—and worse—poor presentation of facts and figures and erroneous application of jurisprudence.

    To address the pitfalls, the Ombudsman and the British Embassy Manila launched the Rapid Assessment and Seminar on Case Analysis and Legal Draftsmanship (Rascald) Initiative for its 280 lawyers.

    “What we have in mind is that [lawyers]should be lucid, concise, logical, and should accent early on what the case is all about. Swift justice should be judicious and effective,” Morales said during the launch.

    Director Dennis Baldago of the Ombudsman’s Project Management Bureau said that these errors may “weaken the prosecution [and]further delay disposition of cases.”

    Together with the support of the British embassy, around 280 Ombudsman lawyers shall undergo enhancement classes in seven batches from August 2013 to February 2014 to improve their skills in deciding cases and drafting action papers.

    They will also be trained intensively in case analysis, legal research and citations and the use of judicial affidavits.

    Morales said that the Rascald aims to increase case disposition by 25 percent in 2013 and eventually achieve a zero backlog by 2018, one of the Ombudsman’s targets in its eight-point agenda.

    She added that the training aims to come up with an Ombudsman Stylebook.

    For his part, British Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Trevor Lewis said that the partnership with the Ombudsman shows Britain’s continuing support to tackle corruption as a global problem.

    “Corruption is not restricted by borders or languages . . . [The embassy is] here to demonstrate our continuing support for the important work you are all doing to make Philippines a better place,” Lewis said.

    He said that he has seen “abundance” in the corruption efforts of the country.

    “Corruption robs the people. [The embassy] recognizes that the Ombudsman is seeking to be a high performing and self-confident organization that will continue the fight against graft . . . That is why we are so happy to be partnering with you,” Lewis added.

    In closing, Morales said that the zero backlog goal helps “not only in deterring corruption but also in deepening the people’s trust in the government institutions and processes.”

    “An institution can only be as good as its people. Building the capacity of Ombudsman’s lawyers leads to a more efficient and effective delivery of the institution’s services and our Constitutional mandate,” she said.

    John Constantine G. Cordon

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