Guevarra flags corruption, lack of prosecutors in DoJ

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JUSTICE Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra — PCOO.GOV.PH

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra on Wednesday flagged corruption in the Department of Justice (DoJ), saying in a forum anticipating Monday’s State of the Nation Address by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, “(S)ad to say, I have to admit nandiyan yan (it is there).”

Mr. Guevarra cited as an example the support that prosecutors get from local government units (LGU), which gives these LGUs “influence” over prosecutors.

“Our prosecutors engage in performing what we may call a quasi-judicial function so there’s an element of discretion and whenever discretion is available, nandyan (there is) always yung (the) temptation,” Mr. Guevarra explained.

He pointed out in a mix of Tagalog and English: “Under the law the local government units are allowed to provide support and allowances to our prosecutors. We welcome that as a matter of fact but somehow there is always a small chance the independence of our prosecutors is compromised.”

To counter the influence, Mr. Guevarra said, “we would like to provide as much resources as possible to our prosecution service so that the need for the reliance partly from the local government units can be entirely eliminated and so that our prosecutors can work and do their jobs very independently.”

He added, “kulang ang mga (there are not enough) prosecutors” in the department despite “quite a huge number” having been recommended to the Office of the President.

“We are hoping that their appointments will come very soon,” Mr. Guevarra said.

Pressed further, Mr. Guevarra told BusinessWorld in a text message, “I think the OP (Office of the President) has been releasing appointments.. in batches. Marami lang talagang (There are just so many) government positions to fill. Thousands.”

When asked by an audience member at the forum held at the Philippine International Convention Center on how the department could file more case resolutions, Mr. Guevarra said he wanted to “improve the quality of preliminary investigations” conducted by the DoJ, which in turn would “necessitate an improvement in the quality of the quality of the prosecutors whom we choose.”

Asked if he found the quality of the current prosecutors lacking, Mr. Guevarra said in a text message, “I simply mean that there’s room for improvement as to training and efficiency.” — Dane Angelo M. Enerio