• UK Embassy, Ombudsman launch ‘Rascald Initiative’

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    British Embassy Chargé d’ Affaires Trevor Lewis speaks during the launching of the Rascald Initiative, as Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales looks on

    Project aims to boost efficiency in resolving cases
    About 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.

    The Office of the Ombudsman and the British Embassy Manila have just launched the project, which is dubbed Rapid Assessment and Seminar on Case Analysis and Legal Draftsmanship (Rascald) Initiative.

    The Rascald Initiative is projecting an increase in the case disposition rate by 25 percent by the end of 2015 and eventually a zero case backlog by 2018, thereby boosting the office’s efficiency in resolving corruption cases and enhancing the anti-corruption agenda of the government.

    In simple ceremonies at the OMB Function Room in Quezon City, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and British Embassy Manila Chargé d’Affaires Trevor Lewis signed an Accountable Grant Agreement for the Rascald Initiative.

    In presenting the project overview, Director Dennis Russell Baldago of the OMB’s Project Management Bureau explained that the agreement provides funding from the British Embassy to intensively train Ombudsman lawyers on the areas of case analysis and legal draftsmanship, and publish an “Ombudsman Stylebook” which will serve as a desk reference for graft investigation and prosecution officers.

    Baldago stated that under the project, a rapid assessment of the agency’s performance and implementation of the Ombudsman’s seven-year Policy Thrust and 8-Point Agenda (2011-2018) would also be conducted to aid it in formulating a roadmap for the next five years after gauging the strategic plan that was initiated two years ago.

    In his message of support, Lewis stated: “We are happy to support the Rascald project, helping to deliver the top priorities of achieving a full disposition of high profile cases and zero backlog by 2018, and contribute to the work of setting a strategic Roadmap for Action from 2013 to 2018.”

    The Chargé d’Affaires further cited the Ombudsman’s initiative in setting ambitious goals through the 8-Point Agenda, and introducing sustainable reforms in the institution through its Policy Thrust.

    He added: “Roadmaps are not just about technical jargon. They lay out a vision for the future and say what needs to be done to deliver on that vision. Establishing a thoroughly professional and well-respected institution is an essential element of the Ombudsman’s vision for the future,” he continued.

    “Politicians and personalities, even the greatest ones, come and go. Enduring institutions, with highly skilled and motivated staff, stand the test of time. And we recognize that this is the essence of what the Office of the Ombudsman is seeking to achieve; a high performing and self-confident organization that will continue the fight against graft, even as the leadership changes. That is why we so strongly support its work and are so happy to be partnering with it,” he added.

    Ombudsman Morales expressed commitment to the Project and stated, “The attainment of the measurable goal of zero backlog through prompt and judicious resolution of cases helps not only in deterring corruption but also in deepening the people’s trust in the government institutions and processes.”

    She further remarked, “An institution can only be as good as its people, and that building the capacity of Ombudsman’s lawyers leads to a more efficient and effective delivery of the institution’s services.”

    Earlier this year, the British Embassy Manila has partnered with the Office of the Ombudsman in the conduct of the Specialized Training Enhancement program for Field Investigators, which was launched in January.

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