Thursday, February 18, 2016

Ombudsman wants power to wiretap, access criminals’ bank records | Inquirer News

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OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio Morales on Tuesday asked Congress to give her office additional powers to fast-track its investigation into cases of graft, including access to bank records and government offices to retrieve evidence for investigative purposes.

Aside from being exempted from bank secrecy laws, the Ombudsman proposed that the agency be allowed regulated use of wiretapping for evidence-gathering, and to directly file for forfeiture cases before the Sandiganbayan “without having to go to court to ask permission.”

Morales said the Supreme Court “diluted” the Ombudsman’s power when it ruled that the agency can only access the bank records of suspected erring officials when a case has already been filed in court.

Congress should also remove the time bar in going after illegally acquired properties, which prohibits the Ombudsman from filing forfeiture cases during the year before elections, Morales said.

Among other legislative proposals, the Ombudsman asked Congress that it be allowed to retain at least 30 to 35 per cent of recovered and forfeited assets to supplement its budget. - by Dona Z. Pazzibugan.

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