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Reforms in OMB sought

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Former Congresswoman Mari Mitzi “Mitch” Cajayon-Uy strongly stressed the need for urgent reforms in the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) to strengthen and implement its mandate as a public defender following her acquittal in Sandiganbayan in graft and malversation cases.

Cajayon-Uy said Congress should enact reforms in the OMB to ensure that complaints filed with the office are rigorously scrutinized so that government funds are not wasted.

Among the reforms she will push include streamlining the filing of complaint processes. The changes will ensure that all complaints filed with the Ombudsman are backed by solid evidence, similar to the process in the regular courts.

The reform aims to make sure the complaints are not “weaponized” as black propaganda against a particular individual.

According to Cajayon-Uy, these reforms are necessary for the Ombudsman to fulfill its mandate and use its funds properly.

Data released by Cajayon’s legal team showed that out of the P4.82 billion budget of the OMB for 2019, some P643.2 million (51 percent) was spent on Anti-Corruption Investigation Program, resulting in only 17.88 percent criminal and administrative charges. In addition, P469.3 million, or 37.3 percent of the 2019 OMB budget, was spent on the Anti-Corruption Enforcement Program, contributing to only 25 percent of criminal and civil cases prosecution with actual court resolution.

The former lawmaker pointed out that government officials who are wrongly charged suffer from mental anguish, including spending to defend themselves. Additionally, their families suffer embarrassment, and their reputation is tarnished due to fabricated accusations.

Cajayon-Uy said that once she is re-elected in Congress in 2022, she would push for a review of the Ombudsman Act of 1989 and propose imposing fines, damages, and legal costs to the accuser once the accused is acquitted.

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