Duterte creates Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order (EO) creating the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.

The commission, which was created Under EO 43 signed on October 4, will investigate the administrative cases against officials belonging to all three branches of government.

The body would be composed of a chairman and four Commissioners who will be appointed by the President. Majority of the members of the fact-finding body should be members of the Philippine Bar and must have been engaged in the practice of law in the Philippines for at least five years.

The Chief Executive vested the commission with power, on complaints or motu proprio (on his own impulse), 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."

The anti-corruption body, upon Duterte's instruction, may investigate presidential appointees in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police "whenever he deems it necessary or appropriate."

"This administration has a continuing mandate to fight eradicate graft and corruption in the different departments, bureaus, offices, and other government agencies and instrumentalities, as well as an advocacy to ensure that public officials and employees in all branches of government conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the public trust," Duterte said in his EO.

"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," he added.

The creation of the fact-finding commission came after Duterte had expressed intent to investigate the Ombudsman's office for alleged rampant extortion activities to dismiss the complaints filed against several individuals.

The President also warned to file impeachment complaints against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno for their alleged irregularities.

He made the threat amid the ongoing investigation of anti-graft body regarding his supposed ill-gotten wealth amounting to multi-billion pesos.

Under the EO, Duterte may also task the commission to conduct lifestyle checks and fact-finding investigations against employees in the executive, judiciary, or legislative branches who may have violated the Constitution.

Duterte explained that his directive was in line with his continuing mandate "to fight eradicate graft and corruption in the different departments, bureaus, offices, and other government agencies and instrumentalities."

"The President's power to appoint carries with it the power to discipline and remove public officials and employees, except those who are not otherwise subject to his disciplining authority as may be provided by the Constitution and existing laws," he said.

"The President's plenary powers as head of government authorize him to conduct lifestyle checks and fact-finding inquiries on all public officials and employees, including those outside the executive department," he added.

The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission may recommend to Duterte the issuance of an order of 90-day preventive suspension when the circumstances of the investigation warrant the same.

The commission would also have the power to administer oaths and issue subpoena ad testificandum and duces tecum. Any delay or refusal without adequate cause to comply with the subpoena would constitute a ground for administrative disciplinary action.

The commission and its personnel were not allowed to disclose any record or information, in connection with any investigation concerning the respondents to protect his right to a fair and impartial investigation of the case.

Should they make public any information related to an administrative case against an individual, the commission was tasked to ensure that they would be "balanced, fair, and accurate."

Upon the completion of the investigation, the fact-finding body was directed to submit its report and recommendations directly to the President for approval and final disposition.

The commission may also refer any case for appropriate action to the Office of the Ombudsman, or deputize any other office, including government-owned or -controlled corporations, to conduct an investigation.

The initial budget of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission would be determined in coordination with Budget department. (SunStar Philippines)
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