By REDJIE CAWIS / PIA CAR
BAGUIO CITY — At least 15 government vehicles were seen in various tourist spots here and in LaTrinidad, Benguet by a monitoring team from the Office of the Ombudsman during the weekend.
Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Mark Jalandoni said the Office of the Ombudsman conducted the Oplan Red Plate while in the Baguio City for a dialogue with various stakeholders and information campaign on public accountability to the city’s barangay officials and government employees.
The Task Force Red Plate was created by Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez in April 2006 to ensure that government vehicles are being used prudently and in accordance with applicable laws, rules and regulations. It also aims to enhance public awareness and participation in support of the Ombudsman’s fight against graft and corruption.
Jalandoni said that the vehicles that they saw in tourist spots are yet to be determined if they are being used as personal vehicles by government employees.
He added that with the cold weather here in Baguio City for the past weeks now, more tourists are coming up and it is possible that government vehicles are being used for the pleasure of government employees.
“The investigating team had taken pictures of these vehicles parked in tourist spots and they would conduct detailed investigation with the help of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to determine what government agencies own the said vehicles, and if they are on an official travel to Baguio and La Trinidad,” he said.
If proven that these government vehicles were being mis-used, proper administrative and other charges will be faced by the agency head and or those who used it.
In the previous years after the conduct of proper administrative adjudication, 19 government officials were suspended from office without pay for violating various rules and regulations on the use of government vehicles.
He added the process is very tedious and often takes a lot of time and their agency does not have the capability to conduct inspections that frequen and in various places.
Lack of personnel to carry out the Ombudsman’s multifarious anti-graft and corruption functions has limited them from the conduct of these inspections including lifestyle checks.
To strengthen their coverage of cases, the Office of the Ombudsman has planned to put up a satellite office here. The satellite office will be a big help in the fight against graft and corruption in the Cordillera Region, Jalandoni said. # nordis.net