Philippines

Duterte creates Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission

The commission was created a week after the President vowed to form a body that would investigate alleged corruption at the Office of the Ombudsman.

EO No. 43, signed by Duterte on Wednesday, states that the commission is mandated “to directly assist the President in investigating and/or hearing administrative cases primarily involving graft and or corruption against all presidential appointees.”

In creating the PACC, the EO cited the Administration’s continuing mandate to fight and eradicate graft and corruption in government, as well as its advocacy to ensure that all public officials and employees conduct themselves in a manner worthy of public trust.

“There is a need to create a separate commission under the Office of the President solely dedicated to providing assistance to the President in the investigation and hearing of administrative cases and complaints, and in the conduct of lifestyle checks and/or fact-finding inquiries concerning presidential appointees and other public officers allegedly involved in graft and corrupt practices, or have committed other high crimes and/or violations of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees,” the EO reads.

As provided by EO 43, the Commission shall be composed of a chairman and four commissioners to be appointed by the President.

The chairman shall have the rank of Presidential Assistant II while the commissioners shall have the rank of Presidential Assistant I.

Majority of the members of the commission must be lawyers who have been in practice for at least five years.

The EO states that the commission shall “have the power, on complaint or motu proprio (on its own), and concurrently with the Office of the Ombudsman, to hear, investigate, receive, gather, and evaluate evidence, intelligence reports, and information in administrative cases against all presidential appointees in the Executive Branch of the government and any of its agencies and instrumentalities occupying the position of assistant regional director or an equivalent rank and higher.”

Upon the President’s instruction, the Commission may investigate presidential appointees in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) whenever he deems it necessary or appropriate.

On the President’s orders or on its own, the Commission may also conduct lifestyle checks and fact-finding inquiries on acts or omissions of all presidential appointees, including those outside the executive branch which may be violative of the Constitution, or contrary to law, rules and regulation, and/or constitute serious misconduct tantamount to betrayal of public trust.

“On the basis of such fact-finding inquiries, the Commission shall submit its report and recommended courses of action to the President,” the EO said.

The Commission shall use every and all reasonable means to ascertain the facts in each case and complaint speedily and objectively, in all instances observing due process.

EO 43 further states that “the resignation or retirement of the public officer under investigation shall not divest the Commission of jurisdiction to continue the investigation or hearing thereof.”

The Commission also has the power to tap law enforcement agencies and make recommendations to place vital witnesses under the justice department’s Witness Protection Program.

The Commission may also recommend to the President the preventive suspension of an official upon the filing of a complaint or charge.

It also has the power to summon government personnel and records, as well as to administer oaths.

The EO prohibits the disclosure of records or information in connection with any investigation “when such disclosure will deprive the respondent of his/her right to a fair and impartial investigation of the case.”

In 2010, then President Benigno Aquino III abolished a similar commission, called the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC), and transferred its functions to the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs (ODESLA).

Under EO 43, all functions of the defunct PAGC shall be transferred to the Commission.

However, the ODESLA will retain its functions of formulating national anti-corruption plans, policies and strategies, implementing anti-corruption initiatives of the government and monitoring compliance.

The creation of the PACC is seen to further strengthen the government’s drive to get rid of corrupt public officials.

Since winning the Presidency on a platform of eradicating corruption in government, Duterte has fired some of his appointees accused of committing corrupt practices. (PNA)

 

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