By Rey Anthony Chiu | 11:09 AM September 11, 2022
In what could enthrone Bohol into yet another niched in the altar of excellence in governance excellence, Bohol leadership launches the Office of Governance, Accountability and Review (OGAR), possibly the first local government initiative in the country that erects the framework for a far more effective anti-graft and corruption crusade.
Coming at a time when most graft and corruption suits elevated to government anti-graft investigation bodies gets dismissed for weak evidence, a body lodged in the Capitol whose tasks involve building up cases it sees as meritorious, should greatly improve the batting rate in bringing abusive public officials to jail.
What frustrates most anti-graft advocate is when they think they have built the perfect case to warrant a public official’s jail time, these suits barely sizzle upon appreciation of evidence, or out of a technicality.
There is so much to be done in building a case, and this OGAR would be there to make sure the suits they recommend to file, are so done that they can act like a primary ombudsman, explains an observer who looked at the documents creating such a body.
“If the national government acknowledges this, this could be adopted in the entire country,” OGAR Chair Leoncio Evasco, said thanking the governor for making him lead a task to fulfill the governor’s campaign promise.
Launched here in Bohol by virtue of Executive Order No. 2 which was among Governor Erico Aristotle Aumentado’s first official acts as governor, the OGAR has been tasked to identify actuations of the Provincial Government of Bohol committed by its offices and employees prior to July 1, 2022, which appears to be in violation of the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Government Officials and Employees.
Launched September 5, OGAR, which also presented its Board of Consultants which include men of honor, probity and integrity and assisted by a battery of lawyers , researchers and office personnel, the OGAR can probe and investigate such actions and manner these were made, to determine the public or private persons responsible and involved in the anomaly.
Board of Consultants presented during the launch include former Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., Justice Gabriel Ingles, former Judge Suceso Arcamo, former Provincial Prosecutor Macario Delusa, former city mayor Dan Lim, businessman Emmanuel Ramasola, and Capitol Spokesperson Atty. Handel Lagunay.
Present during the OGAR launch and presentation of its Board of Consultants were Governor Erico Aristotle Aumentado, Vice Governor Victor Dionisio Balite, Provincial Administrator Asteria Caberte, Capitol Executive Assistant on Peace and Order former general Art Evangelista.
Also helping the consultants is a battery of lawyers picked for the same standard of integrity and court litigation scars, rigid enough to make sure all cases recommended for filing has enough substances to assure a slammer.
“This would be a group of five to six lawyers under public accountant and lawyer Neil Eric Ochoco, the executive director,” announced Atty Handel Lagunay.
“The consultants operate as a collegial body, if there are findings by the investigating body of lawyers, we will deliberate and decide on simple majority, we weigh the weight of evidence from the investigation, and if the evidence is compelling, then the official investigated will start to worry,” explains Judge Arcamo.
And to start with, the OGAR has been authorized to access any and all records of the Provincial Government in whatever format, request access if records from other government offices and agencies, obtain sworn statement of witnesses and resource persons, preserve such records, objects or pieces of evidence related to the transaction under investigation and perform all acts necessary, inherent and desirable to accomplish its objectives.
For Prosecutor Delusa, this is the first time that a local government picks an extraordinary job, that of becoming a primary ombudsman.
The task is not only about the past administration, but all the anomalous contracts even municipal mayors got into, and when these are anomalous, the OGAR works.
Nothing personal, this is for clean governance, adds Arcamo, and as far as graft and corrupt practices are concerned, there will be no sacred cows.
At this, former mayor Lim said the media will have to play a major role in the administration of OGAR and the administration of Gov Aumentado.
Such is so because the OGAR, by its intents and purposes can also look into the Aumentado transactions, making it his sword of Damocles. (RAHC/pia-7/Bohol)