Press Release
March 14, 2007

Recto Calls for Immediate Hiring
of 721 More Ombudsman Lawyers, Investigators

Says signing of 2007 budget into law dire so that hiring can begin

SEN. RALPH RECTO on Wednesday called for the immediate hiring of 721 ombudsman lawyers and investigators to run after people who run away with the peoples money.

Recto said documents sent to the Senate revealed that the Ombudsmans budget for 2007 will increase by P299 million, enabling it to hire more personnel.

He added that with the signing of the P1.126-trillion national budget for 2007, the constitutionally-created public watchdog would be allowed to operate on a P974-million budget, up by 31 percent from last years P675 million.

The Senate approved the request when it okayed the budget, Recto said.

Recto stressed the dire need for the P1.126 trillion national budget to be signed into for funds to be released so that hiring can begin.

The legislator explained that about P200 million of the additional allocation would be used to fund the initial year salaries of the 721 new personnel. 200 of the new recruits would be deployed to field investigation offices, the same documents sent to the Senate said.

Fifty-four lawyers will be hired to shore up the undermanned prosecution branch of the Ombudsman which two years ago was already grappling with 1,985 cases with the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.

Also to be recruited are 150 personnel who will be deployed in three new regional offices that will be created next year, one each in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Fifteen additional graft investigators, 60 graft prevention control officers, and 36 preliminary investigation and adjudication officers, are expected to join the Ombudsmans workforce before the end of the year, according to Recto.

The opening of an anti-graft school for the Ombudsmans personnel funds for the initial years salary of 25 pioneer employees of the OMB Academy has also been included in its 2007 budget .

With the collection of more taxes, Recto believes that a beefed-up Ombudsman would deter wastage of public funds, promoting transparency in both revenue and expenditure side of public finance.

He added that the hiring should have taken place last year but was scuttled after Congress failed to pass the 2006 budget, prompting the government to operate on the budget of the previous year, as required by the Constitution.

The Ombudsman should be exempt from the bureaucracy -wide ban on the hiring of personnel which takes effect 45 days before may 14 polls as those to be recruited are deemed crucial to public service recruitment, Recto ended.

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