Escudero wants to amend Ombudsman act

February 11, 2011 12:47 pm 

MANILA, Feb. 10 -– Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero sees a need to amend the law that created the Office of the Ombudsman following the highly-controversial plea bargaining agreement between the state prosecutors and former military comptroller Carlos Garcia, who is facing plunder charges.

Escudero said amendment should clarify provision in which all the involved agencies should be notified about any plea bargain agreement between the accused person and the Ombudsman prosecutors.

”The consent of the agency in which the accused person served is necessary before the approval of any plea bargain,” Escudero said on Thursday.

During the previous congressional inquiries, lawmakers found out that the plea bargain deal has no approval of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Under the agreement, Garcia has to turn over almost half of his alleged illegally amassed P300 million wealth in exchange of a lesser case which is simple bribery.

Escudero also wanted to amend the law with regard to release of funds to the AFP as well as the Philippine National Police.

”The release of funds should be based on the actual strength and not to the troops ceiling,” Escudero said.

The lawmaker also recommended that the AFP comptroller should be handled by civilians and not by the ranking military officials.

”It is not necessary that soldiers should be assigned for the comptroller. It is the work of civilian,” Escudero said.

Escudero believes that a syndicate operates inside the office of the comptroller “who voluntary approaches the Chief of Staff or the Secretary of National Defense to inform them of their supposed privileges.”

“If we will look at the matter carefully, it looks like the Chief of Staff or the Secretary of National Defense is not the brain of whatever those in the comptroller office are doing,” he added.

The AFP officials claimed the comptroller office has already been dissolved as part of the cleansing campaign in the military.

Despite the untimely death of former AFP chief of staff Angelo Reyes, Escudero said the Senate should resume its inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the military.

Meanwhile, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the senators will be moderate in the next Senate inquiry after some sectors criticized the way some members of the blue ribbon committee threw questions, specially when Reyes attended the first hearing last January 27.

”But it is all addressed to the individual senators to frame their questions, to address their questions and use language that could not offend unnecessarily the dignity and self-respect of the resource people,” Enrile clarified.

Enrile, however, said he personally is not ready to apologize to anybody, leaving it up to the public to judge them “if there are lapses done by other members” including Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, former subordinate of Reyes.

”I would have to pardon Senator Trillanes. He’s new and you have to consider the fact that he had been incarcerated for seven years precisely because they mounted their military effort to denounce the practices inside the organization at the time when some of the witnesses or resource people in the Senate where administering the institutions of the military,” Enrile said.

Reyes was national defense secretary when Trillanes was detained for spearheading a failed military uprising dubbed as Oakwood Mutiny in 2004. Trillanes walked out of detention only in December last year. (PNA)

DCT/scs/jfm

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