THERE were more graft cases filed this year than in 2014 with the House of Representatives topping the list of agencies with the highest number of officials indicted, according to the Office of the Ombudsman.
For the first half of 2015, the Office of the Ombudsman received 5,064 complaints, 15 percent higher compared with the same period last year.
“The House of Representatives topped the list of government agencies with the most number of cases filed with the Sandiganbayan in the First Semester of 2015,” the Ombudsman said in its report.
The top five government agencies with the most number of graft cases filed at the Sandiganbayan were the House of Representatives, 58, local government units (LGUs), 34, Department of Education, 11, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 5, and Department of Public Works and Highways 4.
Most of the 918 accused were low-ranking officials (67 percent) while 18 percent were high-ranking officials, according to the Ombudsman. The remaining 15 percent were private individuals.
The top three offenses were graft, 71, malversation, 21, and direct bribery, 10.
The Ombudsman’s office in Visayas received the highest number of complaints for the first semester of 2015—1,418. It is followed by the Central Office in Manila, 1,024, Luzon, 1,019, Mindanao, 921, and the Ombudsman’s Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices, 682.
While the Ombudsman office received more complaints, the number of cases it filed before the Sandiganyan fell by 54 percent or 134 cases during the first half of 2015 from 290 during the first half of 2014.
However, it secured more convictions during the first half of 2015 compared with the same period last year.
“One or more accused were convicted (including guilty pleas), in 81 out of 108 decided cases thus, posting a conviction rate of 75 percent,” it said.
The conviction rate during the first semester of 2014 was only 45 percent.
Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera vowed that the agency will continue to combat corruption but it also needs the help of the public.
“The Office of the Ombudsman is continuing to fulfill its mandate to fight corruption. We are aggressively pursuing the cases filed in court as well as ensuring the enforcement of all administrative decisions of dismissals that have been issued by the Ombudsman,” Mosquera told reporters Wednesday.
He called on citizens to file complaints against erring public officials
“Because if they keep silent, nothing will really happen,” he said.
“It is difficult to blow the whistle but if it will not be done, nothing will happen. So we encourage everyone to exert effort to really come forward and report corruption,” Mosquera said.
“We expect favorable outcomes in the cases that we have filed in court,” he added.
Outgoing Commission on Audit (COA) Commissioner Heidi Mendoza said ordinary citizens know how deep the problem of corruption is.
“Sana dumating ang araw na sama-sama, kasama din sila sa laban na ito at maintindihan natin na hindi lamang taga-gobyerno ang may mandatong lumaban (sa korupsyon) [I hope that the day will come when the public will join this fight. We understand that it is not only those in government who have the mandate to fight corruption,” she said.
Mendoza, who was earlier appointed to lead the United Nations Internal Oversight Services, resigned from COA five days ago.