I. Sponsorship speeches

SPONSORSHIP SPEECH OF COMMISSIONER MONSOD

MR. MONSOD: Madam President, the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers is respectfully submitting its proposed Article in the Constitution, and we would just want to make a few remarks on the articles and sections that we have included.

“SECTION 1. Public office is a public trust.” — We have amended the 1973 provision in order to incorporate the resolution of Commissioner Tadeo to invest public office with more than just the normal requirements of fidelity, integrity and efficiency, but also as an example of modest lives or simplified lifestyle.

With respect to the section on impeachment, we would like the honorable Commissioners to note the inclusion of the Ombudsman among the offices that are subject to impeachment, and the addition of betrayal of public trust as a ground for impeachment. This is derived from a resolution of Commissioner de los Reyes. In the section on the procedure for impeachment, we were benefitted by the suggestions and advice of the honorable President of the Commission. The principal author of this section is Commissioner Romulo. What we seek to institute here is a more liberal interpretation of the impeachment procedures in order to avoid, for example, the deadlock which happened in the last Batasan. While incorporating the procedures arising from the bicameral nature of the future legislation, the body will note that we provided here that a majority of the Members of the House can initiate impeachment upon vote. But what is important is that any Member of the House or any citizen can file a verified complaint. We used the majority rule of the House, although in 1973 the provision was for 20 percent of the Members of the National Assembly. In that case since it was unicameral, the trying body was also the National Assembly.

In the 1935 Constitution, the rule was two-thirds of the House may initiate impeachment proceedings and three-fourths of the Senate shall convict. However, in our proposal, majority of the Members of the House may initiate and two-thirds of the Senate shall convict. This is one section on which we would like to consult with the Members of this body. This is a very important provision, and we would be advised by the consultations and wisdom of this body with respect to this provision, particularly on the numbers and vote necessary to initiate, to try or to convict.

With respect to the Sandiganbayan and the Tanod-bayan, the Committee decided to make a distinction between the purely prosecutory function of the Tanod-bayan and the function of a pure Ombudsman who will use the prestige and persuasive powers of his office. To call the attention of government officials to any impropriety, misconduct or injustice, we conceive, the Ombudsman as a champion of the citizens. As part of the sponsorship presentation, we would like to ask Vice-Chairman Colayco of the Committee, who is the main author of this section, to give us a few words on the ideas of the Committee in this regard, as well as Commissioner Nolledo who also has contributed his ideas in the framing of this section. The concept of the Ombudsman here is admittedly a little bit different from the 1973 concept. But I will leave that to Commissioner Colayco to explain later. With respect to the section on the right of the State to recover properties unlawfully acquired — Section 13, page 5 — this is based mainly on the resolution of Commissioner Nolledo, with the assistance of Commissioner Azcuna in its formulation. The idea here is to address ourselves to the problem that those who have unlawfully benefitted from the acquisition of public property over the years, through technicalities or practice, have gained immunity and that, therefore, the right of the people to recover should be respected. With that, I would now like to call on Commissioner Colayco to give us his remarks regarding our concept of the Ombudsman.

THE PRESIDENT:  Commissioner Colayco is recognized.

SPONSORSHIP SPEECH OF COMMISSIONER COLAYCO

MR. COLAYCO: Thank you, Madam President. The Committee is proposing the creation of an office which can act in a quick, inexpensive and effective manner on complaints against the administrative inaction, abuse and arbitrariness of government officials and employees in dealing with the people. Under the present Rules, the available remedies are time-consuming and entail expenses beyond the means of many persons with legitimate grounds to complain. On this point, I would like to read a portion of the book prepared by a well-known authority on the Ombudsman and who is a professor at Columbia University. He says:

An important feature of the Ombudsman office is that, because of the simple and cheap way in which complaints are handled, many minor complaints can be satisfied; though important to the complainant, they would not be worth the cost of an elaborate court procedure.

This is the most common situation which confronts most of our economically disadvantaged people. Excuse me for citing a few personal experiences in this regard. Many a time, people have come to me complaining about the refusal or at least inability, much worse, the imposition of material consideration before they can act. I remember very well a lady from Batangas who came to see me in my office a few years back complaining that she had applied for the issuance of a birth certificate of her son who had applied for service in the U.S. Navy. This was one last requirement she could not comply with because she was made to return for more than three weeks, and everytime the lady would go back, the answer was that they could not find the record. Fortunately, I had some acquaintances in the office of Mayor Bagatsing and after calling up one of his executive secretaries, the certificate of birth was issued in less than one hour after the call. This is one of the many instances when poor illiterate people feel that the government does not care.

It is true that the office of the Tanodbayan has jurisdiction over these simple matters, so we requested Justice Gonzalez to give us his opinion on this, and he said: “How can I attend to these minor matters when I am swamped with investigative and prosecutory duties?” The Justice even suggested that it might be advisable to re-create an honest-to-goodness office of the Ombudsman which the 1971 Constitutional Convention tried to create. I would like to read a portion of the report of the Committee which submitted this proposal to the then Constitutional Convention. By the way, during the 1971 Convention, 27 resolutions were filed for the creation of the office of the Ombudsman and the thrust behind these resolutions was stated very eloquently in this passage of the report. After saying that it is the duty of the State to provide a system whereby poor people can have easy access for their petty grievances, the report said:

What we find, however, is a system characterized by the supremacy of the powerful and the wealthy; respect for the dignity and personality of the elite, the ruling feudal master, and superabundance of opportunity for the oppression of the weak, the poor and the “unconnected.”

Present reliefs for the protection of citizen’s rights are expensive, cumbersome, circuitous and usually available only to the rich and the powerful. Government is plagued by graft and corruption, callous indifference and gross inefficiency, political meddling, immorality, compartmentalization of justice and bankruptcy in national and local leadership. The helpless disillusioned citizen may not bear more, already he has raised his voice in protest and defiance. Because this voice has not reached an official ear, he registers his protest in the streets. Disillusion turns into antagonism and antagonism to bitterness towards the government and the people in the government. The people’s faith in our institutions now hangs by a slim thread and is being stretched to the breaking point.

This in fine is the collective plaint of 27 resolutions submitted to this Convention and referred to the Committee seeking the establishment of a constitutional office with two definite objectives, namely: One, the promotion of higher efficiency and justice in the administration of the laws; and, two, the protection of the constitutional rights of the people by securing the right of the citizens to petition the government for redress of grievances.

So, what happened to this beautiful proposal? What came out of it is Presidential Decree No. 1630, creating the Office of the Tanodbayan. There was, therefore, a failure to implement this specific, explicit proposal to create a body that would act as guardian and protector of the rights especially of the underprivileged. Therefore, we have proposed as briefly as possible in our resolution an office which will not require any formal condition for the filing of a complaint. Under our proposal, a person can file a complaint even, by telephone and without much ado, the office of the Ombudsman is under obligation to see to it that the complaint is acted upon, not merely attended to but acted upon. Even in the United States, in the Nassau County, the Ombudsman merely picks up the telephone and calls up the errant employee. If the employee admits that there was reason behind the complaint, he is told to do what the complainant wanted him to do without much ado. And then that is followed up by the corresponding report to the department of the government which has supervision over the employee at fault, with the proper recommendation.

Under this proposal, the main thrust is remedial action, not the usual one where the poor complainant is told: “Maghanda ka muna ng affidavit,” but he is not even helped in that. So, the complainant, if he is illiterate or poor, is turned off. He says: “Ni wala akong kilalang abogado. Wala akong ibabayad sa abogado.” This is the situation which the Committee is proposing to remedy. One of the most common complaints which I have received myself is the inaction of many judges. They would come to me saying: “Sir, kilala ba ninyo si gano’ng judge? Eh, matagal na po iyong aming asunto, wala pa hanggang ngayon.” If I know the judge, I could do it; if I do not know him, I could do it through another judge who could do it. This role can be very well filled by the Ombudsman whose office we are proposing to create. But that is on the minor level.

Under our proposal, the Ombudsman is empowered to investigate, to inquire into and to demand the production of documents involving transactions and contracts of the government where disbursement of public funds is reported. We read almost everyday of how certain buildings have been constructed improperly and of many other irregularities which are merely reported but which nobody in the government dares or bothers to look into. That role which should have been performed by our own Tanodbayan is not attended to because the Tanodbayan is swamped with work — this was confessed to us during our hearing. The main thrust is action; the disciplinary or punitive remedy is secondary. On a higher level then, the Ombudsman is going to be the eyes and ears of the people. Where administrative action demanded is not forthcoming because under our rules the Ombudsman is required to ask the government official concerned to impose the disciplinary action on the employee at fault and to follow it up and to see to it that it is complied with, he is authorized to make public the nature of the complaint and the inaction of the official concerned, because generally, public officials are afraid of publicity. This measure is commonly followed in the European system of Ombudsman, as well as in the United States.

To give the Ombudsman stature and a certain clout, we are proposing that he be given the status, the role or the rank of a chairman of a constitutional commission, as well as the same salary. If we are going to create an office which will have a lower rank than this, not even an ordinary employee of the government will bother to obey him. Second, to free him from political pressure, the Ombudsman cannot be removed except by impeachment. We hope that with the help of this body, we will receive better and more practical ideas. But we certainly appeal to the Members not to fail our people.

In 1950, for instance, President Quirino created the Integrity Board in an attempt to formalize the procedure for executive direction and control of the bureaucracy. This Board lasted only for six months. When President Magsaysay took over the reins of government in 1953, he created the Presidential Complaints and Action Committee. The primary purpose of this Committee was to expedite action on complaints received by the Office of the President against the manner in which the officials of the executive departments and offices were performing the duties entrusted to them by law, or against their acts, conduct or behavior. So we can see that as early as the time of President Magsaysay, the President already saw the necessity of the Ombudsman as we are now proposing. But again politics came in — this office did not last long. Two months after President Magsaysay’s death, the office was abolished.

Next, President Garcia created his own Presidential Committee on Administration, Performance and Efficiency. Again this office did not last long and was replaced by the Presidential Agency on Reforms and Government Operations or PARGO under the regime of President Marcos. Although these programs were good per se, especially the program of President Magsaysay, the new President discarded it — this is a political block. The incoming President generally tends to discard the policies and the programs of the previous President. The intention, therefore, of our proposal is to constitutionalize the office so that it cannot be touched by the Presidents as they come and go.

This is a very brief summary of our plan; we beg the Commission to give this very careful attention and consideration. Let us not fail our common masses again, as we have failed them in the past.

Thank you.

MR. MONSOD: Madam President, may I ask Commissioner Nolledo to give his remarks.

THE PRESIDENT:   Commissioner Nolledo is recognized.

SPONSORSHIP REMARKS OF COMMISSIONER NOLLEDO

MR. NOLLEDO:   Thank you, Madam President. I would like to talk briefly on the creation of the Ombudsman because I am the author of Resolution No. 280, entitled: “RESOLUTION TO STRENGTHEN INVIGORATE AND CONSTITUTIONALIZE THE OMBUDSMAN KNOWN AS THE TANODBAYAN.” I would like to talk also in support of my Resolution No. 61 which the Committee incorporated in its report, and which states in essence that the right of the government to forfeit ill-gotten wealth of public officials shall not prescribe.

Madam President, the creation of an Ombudsman which is a proposal, in the words of Commissioner Romulo, “worth dying for,” is in answer to the crying need of our people for an honest and responsive government. The office of the Ombudsman as proposed by the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers, ably headed by Commissioner Monsod, is really an institution primarily for the citizen as against the malpractices and corruption in the government. As an official critic, the Ombudsman will study the law, the procedure and practice in the government, and make appropriate recommendations for a more systematic operation of the governmental machinery, free from bureaucratic inconveniences. As a mobilizer, the Ombudsman will see to it that there be a steady flow of services to the individual consumers of government. And as a watchdog, the Ombudsman will look after the general, as well as specific, performance of all government officials and employees so that the law may not be administered with an evil eye or an uneven hand.

The graft and corruption at all levels of our government is to be deplored, Madam President. Our public officers act as if they are the masters when they are really the servants of the people. The “lagay” system has been condemnably institutionalized in all government offices, including the courts. The day will come, Madam President, when our people will accept corruption as a way of life and will lose their will to fight this corruption, thus resulting in the total decay of our national character and the imminent collapse of our national conscience. The effects of this situation are terrible to contemplate because there would emerge again a system of dictatorship to contain the chaos, widespread dissatisfaction, indifference and anarchy that are the effects of insensitiveness of government to the rightful demands of the people. The emergence of totalitarianism in China, in many countries in South America and other places in the world could easily be traced to unrestricted corrupt ways of government officials.

And so, Madam President, let our Ombudsman, called the eyes and ears of the people, the super lawyer-for-free of the oppressed and the downtrodden, raise a new hope in our people who must be given the reassurance that the government really cares for them. Along with the creation of the office of Ombudsman, I feel grateful to our Committee for embodying substantially my resolution providing that the right of the State to recover properties unlawfully acquired by public officials or employees shall not prescribe. This is a provision designed to enable the government to forfeit ill-gotten wealth of public officers, regardless of the lapse of time.

Madam President, we hear of public officers who believe in the Avelino question of “What are we in power for? ” and in the Perez question of “What is wrong with the government officials providing for their future?” and who, after several years in service, find themselves graduating from “pauperism” to “millionairism.” They live in palatial homes, ride in high-class automobiles, hold extravagant parties, go abroad and wear expensive jewelries in utter disregard of the basic rules of decency and honor. Madam President, granting the State the constitutional, imprescriptible right to forfeit ill-gotten wealth of erring public officers is, to my mind, a highly significant reform in public service.

Thank you, Madam President.

II. Tanodbayan roots

MR. MONSOD: Madam President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Commissioner Monsod is recognized.

MR. MONSOD: May I just close this presentation by saying that in reflecting and trying to put these sections together we realized that there are no one-time solutions to many of our problems, that good government is the cumulative effect of many safeguards within the Constitution, and it is our modest opinion that the concept of the Ombudsman, as presently formulated, will make a contribution towards that end.

Madam President, the Committee now puts itself at the disposal of the Commission for interpellation.

MR. RODRIGO:   Madam President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Commissioner Rodrigo is recognized.

MR. RODRIGO:   Will the Committee yield to a few questions?

MR. MONSOD: Yes, Madam President.

MR. RODRIGO:   I notice that the proposed provisions on the Ombudsman retain the Tanodbayan, and there seems to be an overlapping in the functions of the Tanodbayan and the Ombudsman. What is the clear-cut dividing line between the functions of the Ombudsman and the Tanodbayan, so that our people will know when to go to the Tanodbayan and when to go to the Ombudsman?

MR. MONSOD: Madam President, essentially, the difference lies in one being a prosecutory arm and the other a champion of the citizen who is not bound by legal technicalities or legal forms, but I would like to ask Commissioner Nolledo to explain this in detail.

MR. NOLLEDO:   If we go over the provisions of P.D. No. 1607, which amended P.D. No. 1487, creating the Office of the Tanodbayan, also called by Mr. Marcos as Ombudsman, there are two parts in the functions of the Tanodbayan: First, to act as prosecutor of anti-graft cases, and to entertain complaints from the public. The second part constitutes the basic function of the Ombudsman. And if we turn to page 3 of the report of the Committee, Section 5 provides, and I quote:

The Tanodbayan, created pursuant to the mandate of Section 6 of Article XIII of the 1973 Constitution, shall continue to function and exercise its powers as provided by law, except those conferred on the office of the Ombudsman created under this Constitution.

This means that we are removing the second part of the functions of the Tanodbayan and vesting the same in the office of the Ombudsman; and, therefore, the Tanodbayan shall continue to discharge his functions under the first part merely as prosecutor, like a fiscal, of anti-graft cases which are filed with the Anti-Graft Court.

MR. RODRIGO:   So, the Ombudsman cannot prosecute?

MR NOLLEDO: No, he cannot. He can refer the cases that should be prosecuted to the appropriate official — he may be the Tanodbayan or he may be the ordinary fiscal.

MR. RODRIGO:   Has the Ombudsman any power to compel the prosecuting arm to prosecute or can he only recommend?

MR. NOLLEDO:   He can direct.

III. The Ombudsman’s prerogative

MR. RODRIGO:   Can he command?

MR NOLLEDO: That is equivalent to commanding the fiscal if the fiscal refuses to file the case. And then in that case, if the fiscal refuses, then there are available remedies. He may appeal to the Ministry of Justice.

MR. RODRIGO:   Can the Ombudsman act on his own?

MR NOLLEDO: Yes, even without a complaint.

MR RODRIGO: If the fiscal refuses to file the information, can the Ombudsman file the information?

MR. NOLLEDO:   No. I understand he will appeal to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Justice will correspondingly decide on the appeal. If the Ministry of Justice, for example, upholds the Ombudsman, there is no question about that. But if the Ministry of Justice does not uphold him, the Ombudsman perhaps, based on the presidential form of government, may appeal to the President. And the President, where the Minister of Justice is merely his alter ego, may overrule the Minister of Justice.

MR. RODRIGO:   An ordinary citizen now can do that. He goes to the fiscal; the fiscal does not want to listen to him or to prosecute, so he goes to the Minister of Justice. And if the Minister of Justice does not want to act, he can appeal to the President. So, what is the use of the Ombudsman then?

MR COLAYCO: Madam President, of course, he can do that if he has his own lawyer, and he can afford it. But the main thrust of this office is precisely for the Ombudsman to take over after the complainant has filed his complaint.

MR. RODRIGO:   May I beg the Gentleman’s pardon?

MR. COLAYCO: All that the complainant has to do is to file his complaint and the Ombudsman will do the rest. For instance, there may be a case where another government office could properly attend to the complaint. Now under this provision, he will not tell the complainant, “Pumunta ka doon, puwedeng gawin ‘yan.” No. The Ombudsman must act on his own. And if he thinks that the other office can do it better, he has to take the steps himself to refer the case there and follow it up. The reason why our common people are turned off is that they are not attended to. That is the main point.

MR. RODRIGO:   How can we be sure that the Ombudsman will attend to these people? Kung pinababayaan noong fiscal, paano nating masisiguro na hindi pababayaan ng Ombudsman?

MR. COLAYCO: That is a good question, but then that is why we have to choose the right people.

MR. RODRIGO:   We try to choose the right people for fiscals and all that.

MR. COLAYCO: We are humans and judges fail in their duties.

MR. RODRIGO:   What I am driving at is, we might be providing for a useless appendage.

MR. COLAYCO: No, I do not think so because the appointment will be made by the Judicial and Bar Council which we already have.

IV. Appointment of the Ombudsman

MR. RODRIGO:   That is another point I want to raise. Why should the appointment be done by the Judicial and Bar Council or through its recommendation? That is done only to the members of the Supreme Court, while the members of the Constitutional Commissions are appointed by the President with the confirmation of the Commission on Appointments. Why should we rank the Ombudsman with the Justices, of the Supreme Court?

MR COLAYCO: Let me correct the Gentleman’s impression. The Judicial and Bar Council will choose all the members of the judiciary, from the Supreme Court down to the lowest level.

MR. RODRIGO:   Yes, and the judges. But then the Judicial and Bar Council has nothing to do with the appointment of the members of the Constitutional Commissions. The Gentleman also stated that the Ombudsman will have the rank of a chairman of a Constitutional Commission and the members will also have the rank of the members of the Constitutional Commissions.

But then we have already approved the report on the Constitutional Commissions, and the chairman and the members of the Constitutional Commissions do not go through the Judicial and Bar Council; they are just appointed by the President with the confirmation of the Commission on Appointments. Why do we segregate the Ombudsman from the Constitutional Commissions?

MR. NOLLEDO:   Madam President, I think the purpose is very basic and obvious: to maintain the independence of the Ombudsman. If we will allow the Commission on Appointments to interfere in the appointment of an Ombudsman, knowing how politicians are, they can appoint their men, perhaps their followers, to be Ombudsman. And, therefore, the Ombudsman will be subjected to possible future interference from these politicians.

MR RODRIGO: If the intention is to maintain the independence of the Ombudsman, with more reason do we want to maintain the independence of the Constitutional Commissions — the Commission on Elections or the COMELEC; the Commission on Audit or the COA; and the Civil Service Commission — and we have already acted on it.

Why is it that in the case of the Ombudsman, the sponsor would want to rank them with judges and segregate them from the Constitutional Commissions — the COMELEC, COA, Civil Service — whose members are appointed by the President with the confirmation of the Commission on Appointments? The sponsor wants to make a class out of the Ombudsman.

MR. MONSOD: Madam President, there is a distinction between the qualifications required of an Ombudsman and the qualifications required of the members of the Constitutional Commissions. In the case of the Commission on Civil Service, the members are people who have experience in public administration; in the case of the Commission on Audit, they could be people with auditing experience and certified public accountants; and in the case of the Commission on Elections, they could be people with a college degree who are not necessarily lawyers.

In the case of the Constitutional Commissions, it might not be proper to have the prescreening done by the Judicial and Bar Council because the reach of the nominees goes beyond experience in law. In the case of the qualifications of the Ombudsman, the proposal is that they be members of the bar and, therefore, we made the presumption — rightly or wrongly — that perhaps the Judicial and Bar Council would be an appropriate prescreening body as far as looking for the right man for the job is concerned.

MR. RODRIGO:   Does the Committee feel very strongly about this stand?

MR. COLAYCO: I was going to say that. I think the Committee, as I announced earlier, is open to suggestions.

MR. RODRIGO:   Thank you.

MR. COLAYCO: Yes, because what we want is that this body be created, and so, we are inviting suggestions because this is something new to us.

V. Function

MR. MONSOD: May I just go back to another comment the Gentleman made earlier on the lack of prosecutory functions of the Ombudsman. We discussed this in the Committee and I will admit that the distinction is not clear-cut. However, one of the concepts of the Ombudsman is his ability to persuade reforms, and we felt that perhaps, giving him a prosecutory function might be a bit contradictory with that function because it is better if he attains it through goodwill. However, we also wanted to invest in the event that public officials are not responsive by investing him with certain powers he can resort to in order to see to it that the omission or the act is rectified. For example, he may direct the proper officials to do so. Another power that he has which depends a lot on his prestige is his ability to publicize a wrong or an injustice, because then you have public opinion operating against the erring public official.

MR. RODRIGO:   So, the Ombudsman does not have a prosecutory function nor punitive powers.

MR. COLAYCO: None.

MR. RODRIGO:   All that he relies upon is his persuasive power.

MR. COLAYCO: Yes. Persuasive power plus the ability to require that the proper legal steps be taken to compel the officer to comply.

MR. RODRIGO:   Yes, but what is meant by “required” is that the Ombudsman cannot compel.

MR. COLAYCO: We must distinguish this.

MR. RODRIGO:   Can the Ombudsman compel a fiscal so file . . .

MR. COLAYCO: Not to file but to investigate. That is a duty which is compellable by mandamus, and the Ombudsman will be empowered to do that.

MR. RODRIGO:   To file a mandamus case?

MR. COLAYCO: Yes, to compel him to investigate.

MR. RODRIGO:   But on his own power, the Ombudsman cannot compel; he has to go to court. If the fiscal does not want it done, he has to go to court to file.

MR. COLAYCO: But that can be easily inserted among the powers. That is our idea. We would like to receive fresh ideas.

MR. RODRIGO:   Let us go back to the division between the powers of the Tanodbayan and the Ombudsman which says that:

The Tanodbayan . . . shall continue to function and exercise its powers as provided by law, except those conferred on the office of the Ombudsman created under this Constitution.

The powers of the Ombudsman are enumerated in Section 12.

MR. COLAYCO: They are not exclusive.

MR. RODRIGO:   So, these powers can also be exercised by the Tanodbayan?

MR. COLAYCO: No, I was saying that the powers enumerated here for the Ombudsman are not exclusive.

MR. RODRIGO:   Precisely, I am coming to that. The last of the enumerated functions of the Ombudsman is: “to exercise such powers or perform such functions or duties as may be provided by law.” So, the legislature may vest him with powers taken away from the Tanodbayan, may it not?

MR. COLAYCO: Yes.

MR. MONSOD: Yes.

MR. RODRIGO:   And it is possible that pretty soon the Tanodbayan will be a useless appendage and will lose all his powers.

MR. COLAYCO: No. I am afraid the Gentleman has the wrong perception of the system. We are leaving to the Tanodbayan the continuance of his functions and the exercise of the jurisdiction given to him pursuant to . . .

MR. RODRIGO:   Law.

MR COLAYCO: No. Pursuant first to the Constitution and the law which mandated the creation of the office.

MR. RODRIGO:   Madam President, Section 5 reads: “The Tanodbayan shall continue to function and exercise its powers as provided by law.”

MR. COLAYCO: That is correct, because it is under P.D. No. 1630.

MR. RODRIGO:   So, if it is provided by law, it can be taken away by law, I suppose.

MR. COLAYCO: That is correct.

MR. RODRIGO:   And precisely, Section 12 (6) says that among the functions that can be performed by the Ombudsman are “such functions or duties as may be provided by law.” The sponsors admitted that the legislature later on might remove some powers from the Tanodbayan and transfer these to the Ombudsman.

MR. COLAYCO: Madam President, that is correct.

MR. MONSOD: Madam President, perhaps, it might be helpful if we give the spirit and intendment of the Committee. What we wanted to avoid is the situation where it deteriorates into a prosecution arm. We wanted to give the idea of the Ombudsman a chance, with prestige and persuasive powers, and also a chance to really function as a champion of the citizen.

However, we do not want to foreclose the possibility that in the future, the Assembly, as it may see fit, may have to give additional powers to the Ombudsman; we want to give the concept of a pure Ombudsman a chance under the Constitution.

MR. RODRIGO:   Madam President, what I am worried about is, if we create a constitutional body which has neither punitive nor prosecutory powers but only persuasive powers, we might be raising the hopes of our people too much and then disappoint them.

MR. MONSOD: I agree with the Commissioner.

MR. RODRIGO:   Anyway, since we state that the powers of the Ombudsman can later on be implemented by the legislature, why not leave this to the legislature?

MR. MONSOD: Yes. because we want to avoid what happened in 1973. I read the committee report which recommended the approval of the 27 resolutions for the creation of the office of the Ombudsman, but notwithstanding the explicit purpose enunciated in that report, the implementing law — the last one, P.D. No. 1630 — did not follow the main thrust; instead it created the Tabodbayan.

MR. RODRIGO:   Another question, Madam President. This office will be composed of five members. Will they all come from Manila?

MR. MONSOD: No, please read further.

MR. RODRIGO: Does the office of the Ombudsman have to act as a body?

MR. COLAYCO: It can act both as a body and along, because the head of the office is the Ombudsman himself.

MR. RODRIGO: Let us say that one Ombudsman comes from Mindanao. What I know is that this Ombudsman should be appointed but will have his office in Manila.

MR. COLAYCO: No, Madam President.

MR. RODRIGO: Does the Ombudsman have to be in Mindanao?

MR. COLAYCO: Yes, that is correct.

MR. RODRIGO: How about somebody from Sulu or Zamboanga who wants to complain?

MR. COLAYCO: Unless we make a start, when can we begin to comply and fulfill the needs of our people? Unfortunately, we know that there are many of us who need this. Of course, we cannot say from the very start that there will be five Deputy Ombudsmen for Mindanao alone.

MR. RODRIGO: No, I did not say that. It says here there will be five, one Ombudsman and four members.

MR. COLAYCO: For a start.

MR RODRIGO: Yes. I just want to get right to the point. There are five members, and we have 54 million Filipinos, who all want to complain. Will the Ombudsmen be accessible to all, especially the poor people in the barrios who are the ones supposed to be benefited by this provision? How can they make themselves available?

MR. MONSOD: Madam President, the intention of the provision is that there will be an office of the Ombudsman, not that there will be only five people in that office. I think we prefaced our presentation with the qualification that there are no one-time solutions to all the problems. But we would like to institute one office that could be an answer to some of the problems of our countrymen. This is certainly not a solution to all the complaints of 55 million Filipinos. If we use that argument, then why institute offices that are not located in each and every barrio? Why have courts only in certain areas? Why not in each and every barangay?

I think our position is that, as Commissioner Colayco said, we want to give the concept a chance because it could be a vehicle for our people to correct injustices and misconduct and impropriety.

MR. RODRIGO: Madam President, my question is, will this Ombudsmen have a representative in every municipality, like there is a court in every municipality and city in the Philippines, so that the office will be accessible to the people who want to complain?

MR. MONSOD: Madam President, it is possible in time as the concept is developed, refined and accepted by the people, like in other countries where they have set up different types of Ombudsman — there is an Ombudsman for the military affairs; an Ombudsman for the youth and so on. But then this becomes a complicated and comprehensive view which can be handled subsequently by Congress.

MR. RODRIGO: Thank you.

MR. RAMA: Madam President, I ask that Commissioner Regalado be recognized.

THE PRESIDENT: Commissioner Regalado is recognized.

MR. REGALADO: Thank you, Madam President.

MR. BENGZON:   Apropos of the points raised by Commissioner Rodrigo, in all of these enumerated functions of the Ombudsman, am I correct in saying that the Ombudsman is a troubleshooter and some kind of a “sumbongero” for the people?

MR. ROMULO:    Yes, he is a busybody.

MR. BENGZON:   Thank you.

MR. SARMIENTO:                Madam President, I ask that the honorable Commissioner Maambong be recognized to speak for five minutes.

THE PRESIDENT:                   Commissioner Maambong is recognized.

MR MAAMBONG:                Thank you.

Considering that the Acting Floor Leader said that I will speak for five minutes, I will now manifest my intention that after my time I might have to ask for an extension of just a few minutes because I feel that there are very important matters that I have to discuss with the Committee.

First of all, I will not repeat the concerns of Commissioners Rodrigo and Bengzon about the creation of the Ombudsman. I would just like to indicate for the record my objection to this creation considering the following: I have made a comparative study between the Sandiganbayan, the Tanodbayan and the Ombudsman.

As far as powers are concerned, the Sandiganbayan is a court of law. It is created not directly by the Constitution but by P.D. No. 1606 by virtue of the mandate of the Constitution. We will notice that the Sandiganbayan as a court of law, according to Section 1 of P.D. No. 1606, has the same level as the Intermediate Appellate Court with all the inherent powers of a court of justice. And yet in the present formulation of impeachable officers, the Committee failed to indicate whether its members or justices are impeachable or not, in spite of the fact that in the same Section 1 of P.D. No. 1606, it is clearly indicated that the justices of the Sandiganbayan are impeachable officers. Incidentally on this note, I would like to recall that when we filed a petition before the Supreme Court in the case of Rufino Nuñez vs. Sandiganbayan and the Republic of the Philippines, which incidentally we lost, we questioned the mention of justices of the Sandiganbayan as impeachable officers because they have never been indicated as such in the Constitution.

Compared to the Tanodbayan, while the Sandiganbayan is a court of law, the Tanodbayan is a prosecutory body. When we go down the line to the Ombudsman, what is it under the present configuration of the proposal? Its power is only recommendatory; it directs people to do something, nothing more. As far as I am concerned, the Ombudsman under the present proposal is inutile as far as powers are concerned. On the other hand, it is mentioned that it has the duty to act promptly on complaints. And I would like to agree with Commissioner Bengzon on this point. So I would repeat that its power is only recommendatory; it only directs, nothing more. Of course, there is that phrase in the proposal which says: “and perform other functions and duties as may be provided by law.”

Second point: As far as impeachability of officers is concerned, in the present configuration of the proposal, as I said, the Sandiganbayan justices do not appear to be impeachable, although under Section 1 of P.D. No. 1606 they are supposed to be impeachable. As far as the Tanodbayan justices are concerned, they are not included among the impeachable officers. As regards the Ombudsman and his deputies, the proposal says they are impeachable. Here is a body which is only recommendatory, not a court of law, nor even a prosecutory body and yet, we consider its members impeachable officers.

Third point: The Sandiganbayan is created by a mandate of the Constitution. That is why we have P.D. No. 1606 amending P.D. No. 1486. In the case of the Tanodbayan, it is also created by a mandate of the Constitution. That is why we have P.D. No. 1607 amending P.D. No. 1487. In the case of the Ombudsman, the proposal now is to create this directly on the level of a constitutional commission. And yet — I will refer back to its power — it is only recommendatory and directory.

Let us go to the fourth classification as to their immunities. The Sandiganbayan justices do not have immunities under P.D. No. 1606. In the case of the Tanodbayan justices, however, Section 20 of P.D. No. 1607 clearly indicates their immunities which incidentally are the very same immunities which had been copied almost verbatim in the case of the executive order granting powers to the Presidential Commission on Good Government. In the case of the Ombudsman and his deputies, there is no mention that they are immune from civil prosecution.

So we have a situation where a court of law has no immunities. We have a prosecutory arm in the Tanodbayan which has immunities and we have the Ombudsman which has none.

I would like the Committee to please consider these things because I understand from the Chairman that the Committee will think about this during this weekend.

I will now go to the more important point, I have already reached my time.

MR. NOLLEDO:   May we have the questions?

MR. MAAMBONG:              Yes, Madam President.

MR. NOLLEDO:   Does the Commissioner have questions to ask of the Committee?

MR. MAAMBONG:  I have questions on the next matter which I will discuss, and I now move, Madam President, that I be given a time extension of a few minutes, if it is all right with the body.

THE PRESIDENT:  Is there any objection? (Silence) The Chair hears none; the motion is approved.

MR. MAAMBONG:  Thank you.

I will now concern myself with the statement of the Chairman that this impeachment proceeding is very important in the light of the previous happenings in this country. I would like to believe that he was referring to the impeachment case filed against the former President which was covered by Resolution No. 644.

My questions will be directed to this point in order that in the future we will not have difficulties. I will not ask on the procedural aspect. I understand Commissioner Davide will take care of that. I am more concerned about the nature of the impeachment proceedings on which we, members of the Committee on Justice and Good Government that took cognizance of that impeachment proceeding against the former President, really had a lot of difficulty.

We have now in the present proposal the following grounds for impeachment: culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, other high crimes, graft and corruption or betrayal of trust. I think we have no problem in the case of treason and bribery because these are all covered by law. I do not think we have also any problem in the case of graft and corruption because it is covered by RA 1319, which was promulgated on August 17, 1960. We will now concern ourselves with the interpretation of the phrases “other high crimes” and “betrayal of trust.” I will start by asking the Committee this question: What is really the thinking of the Committee as far as impeachment proceedings are concerned? Are impeachment proceedings criminal in nature or not? In order to answer this very clearly, I would like to indicate the following: In the case of State v. Lerse, 70 Nebraska 92, which is a United States case, the Supreme Court ruled that the proceeding is likened to a proceeding by indictment in a court of criminal jurisdiction. It is in its nature highly penal and is governed by rules of law applicable to criminal prosecution. On the other hand, I would like to indicate this to the Committee that in the case of official misconduct, we have here statements which I think the Committee should comment on. Official misconduct is supposed to fall into three categories: One, exceeding the constitutional bounds of the powers of the office in derogation of the powers of another branch of government; two, behaving in a manner grossly incompatible with the proper function and purpose of the office; and, three, employing the power of the office for an improper purpose or personal gain.

The provision which we have here says:

. . . impeachment and the criminal law serve fundamentally different purposes. Impeachment is the first step in a remedial process. The purpose is not personal punishment. Its function is primarily to maintain constitutional government. The general applicability of the criminal law also makes it inappropriate as the standard. In an impeachment proceeding, a President is called to account for abusing powers which only a President possesses. Impeachable conduct may include the serious failure to discharge the affirmative duties imposed on the President by the Constitution. Unlike a criminal case, the cause for removal may be based on his entire course of conduct in office. It may be a course of conduct more than individual acts that has a tendency to subvert constitutional government. (Power of Impeachment — Guide to Congress, p. 149)

For purposes of proper elucidation, what is the thinking now of the Committee as far as this impeachment procedure is concerned? Is this a criminal proceeding? If so, we have to use the principle of criminal law.

MR. ROMULO:    Yes. Firstly, we agree with the quotation that the Commissioner has just read. Insofar as we are concerned, the procedure is analogous to a criminal trial but it is not a criminal prosecution per se. The goal of an impeachment is merely to remove the fellow from office for the crimes indicated. However, Section 3 (6) of this proposed Article itself — and this is really very close to the provision of the 1935 Constitution — says:

Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than the removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the Government of the Philippines, but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to prosecution, trial and punishment according to law.

In essence, I think that answers the Commissioner’s question. He is then subject to a separate prosecution, whether civilly or criminally, for the acts that he had committed.

MR. MAAMBONG:              May I proceed now to two very short questions considering that we have already identified the problem and the answer is that it is not a purely criminal prosecution in terms of procedure. We have here a statement in the book of Simpson which reads:

A person subject to impeachment by Congress is entitled to due process of law although presently there is little judicial authority. It can be suggested that he is also entitled to his privilege against self-incrimination, right to counsel, right to be informed of the nature and the cause of the accusation against him, and the right to be confronted with adversary witnesses. (Treaties on Federal Impeachment, p. 27)

Would this statement be applicable to an impeachment proceeding?

MR. ROMULO:    As the provisions now read, I think the Senate, as well as the House, will set up its own rules. I do not know whether or not we have to adhere to that because what the Commissioner has read, strictly speaking, is a criminal proceeding. But the President like any citizen is entitled to the bill of rights, like confrontation of witnesses, notice of the charges and so on. I think those are fundamental and he is entitled to them.

MR. MAAMBONG:              Let us go to a bottom-line question then. When the Senate acting as a body will now try the impeachment case, will it conduct the proceeding using principles of criminal procedure?

MR. ROMULO:    I do not think, strictly speaking, that it need be criminal procedures. The important thing, I believe, is that the involved party should knew the charges. He must have the opportunity to answer the charges and the proceedings must be, in total, fair and impartial. I do not think we have to go to the minutiae of a criminal proceeding because that is not the intention. This is not a criminal proceeding per se.

MR. MAAMBONG:              In the matter of presentation, for example, of evidence, when it comes to treason and bribery, would the rules on criminal procedure be applied, considering that I am now particularizing on the ground which is punishable by the Revised Penal Code, like treason or bribery?

MR. ROMULO:    Yes, but we will notice that, strictly speaking, for the crime of treason under the Revised Penal Code, he is answerable for that crime somewhere else. So my conclusion is that obviously, it is in the criminal court where we will apply all the minutiae of evidence and proceedings and all these due processes. But we can be more liberal when it comes to the impeachment proceedings, for instance, in the Senate, because we are after the removal of that fellow, and conviction in that case really amounts to his removal from office. The courts of justice will take care of the criminal and civil aspects.

MR. MAAMBONG:              Last point, just to enrich our records. I would like the Committee to comment on this quotation from Philippine Constitution by Former Chief Justice Fernando, wherein he said:

In the United States Constitution, the term is high crime and misdemeanors. The Philippine Constitution speaks only of high crimes. There is support for the view that while there need not be a showing of the criminal character of the act imputed, it must be of sufficient seriousness as to justify the belief that there was a grave violation of the trust imposed on the official sought to be impeached. (pp. 460-461)

Would the Committee agree to this statement?

MR. ROMULO:    Yes. Let me say that essentially, impeachment is a political act.

MR. MAAMBONG:              Yes. I will also quote the report of the General Committee on the impeachment of President Quirino, Volume IV, Congressional Records, House of Representatives, 1553:

High crimes refer to those offenses which, like treason and bribery, are indictable offenses and are of such enormous gravity that they strike at the very life or orderly working of the government.

Would the Committee agree to this?

MR. ROMULO:    Yes, of course, especially if the President is involved.

MR. MAAMBONG:              Finally, I will again refer to the committee report on the impeachment of President Quirino on the phrase “culpable violation of the Constitution,” and I quote:

Culpable violation of the Constitution means willful and intentional violation of the Constitution and not violation committed unintentionally or involuntarily or in good faith or thru an honest mistake of judgment.

Would the Committee agree?

MR. ROMULO:    Yes, we agree with that.

MR. MAAMBONG:              And this is really the final quotation which I would like the Committee to comment on. Chief Justice Fernando also said:

Culpable violation implies deliberate intent, perhaps even a certain degree of perversity for it is not easy to imagine that individuals in the category of these officials would go so far as to defy knowingly what the Constitution commands.

Could this be an agreeable interpretation to the Committee?

MR ROMULO:  Yes, subject to exception, such as the last administrator we had.

MR. MAAMBONG:  The Commissioner has been very kind.

Thank you very much. Thank you, Madam President.

MR. NOLLEDO:   Madam President, before the Acting Floor Leader calls for the next interpellator, I would like to make a comment on the statements of Commissioners Rodrigo and Maambong that the function of the Ombudsman is merely recommendatory and that the office may constitute as a useless appendage in the government . . .

Suppose a common tao goes to a public office and he is not attended to, so he complains to the chief of the division. The usual happening is that there is indifference. He feels aggrieved, he goes home and he does not pursue his case anymore. He does not know where to go. So he goes to the Ombudsman, and the Ombudsman assists him by being his lawyer for free. In this case, does the Commissioner think we are not doing service to our people by giving him a lawyer for free to champion his cause in order that possible abuse on the part of government officials may be minimized, if not eradicated?

I would like the body to know that it is not exactly true to state that the basic function of the Ombudsman is recommendatory. If we look on page 4, Section 12, one of the functions of the Ombudsman is:

To direct, upon complaint or at its own instance, any public official or employee of the government, as well as of any government-owned corporation or institution, to perform and expedite any act or duty required of him by law, or to stop, prevent, and correct any abuse or impropriety in the performance of duties.

Many of the valid complaints of the common tao who go to public offices are not publicized: no one assists them, so they just leave the government offices in utter exasperation. But when the public officers know that there is an office of the Ombudsman that will champion his cause, government officials will also be careful in mistreating the common tao. They know that their actions can be publicized. They know that the Ombudsman can recommend their removal. They know that the Ombudsman will direct them to perform their duties. And when they do not perform their duties, they will be investigated. These are factors that should be considered to deter public officials from discharging their duties with inefficiency.

Thank you, Madam President.

MR. REGALADO: In connection also with that concern of Commissioner Rodrigo regarding the Ombudsman being merely a duplication, I have here the records of the former Ombudsman to show that one of the reasons he could not function in his administrative or recommendatory capacity was the number of cases for prosecution which took almost all his time. So I believe that there should really be an Ombudsman to take care of the recommendatory, policy-determining, policy-suggesting or administrative aspect of his position. The whole task of prosecution should be left to a regular Tanodbayan.

One more thing, and I think the Commissioner should look into this: In the Committee on Constitutional Commissions and Agencies where the Chairman and I enjoy each other’s company, there has been submitted Proposed Resolution No. 365 which seeks to constitutionalize a Commission on Human Rights with investigatory, reportorial and recommendatory powers insofar as violations of human rights are concerned. Would the Commissioner consider the possibility of having these functions of the proposed constitutional Commission on Human Rights ingrafted into the functions of the Ombudsman so that there will be no need to create another constitutional commission only for that purpose? But if these functions are taken over by the Ombudsman who himself is a constitutional officer, then, possibly, it will not only be economical for the government but it will result in nonduplication of the same investigatory, recommendatory and reportorial functions because these are limited under this proposed resolution to human rights violations. I think those functions should properly be absorbed by the Ombudsman because, after all, his functions cover all governmental institutions.

MR. MONSOD: Madam President, the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Commissions and Agencies is not here, but I am a member of that Committee and we would like to tell the body that the Chairman and the members have accepted the idea of setting up a Commission on Human Rights because the violation of human rights is a very special problem in our country, and the Ombudsman really has a wide enough area of activities already. I think we should look at the Ombudsman not only as somebody who looks into offenses or crimes but also into government inefficiency, impropriety and misconduct that may not really amount to crime. And by definition that is already quite a wide and broad range of functions.

MR. REGALADO: Madam President, I am the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Proposed Additional Constitutional Commissions in the same Committee, but I was never consulted on this matter. That is why when I went over this proposed resolution which seeks to create a new and additional constitutional commission, that was the first time I went over the proposed functions of that Commission on Human Rights and I had toyed with the idea that possibly they could be placed also under the duties and functions of the Ombudsman.

MR. MONSOD: Madam President, I was informed by the Chairman that he is sorry if the same views have not been shared with the Commissioner. Perhaps, it is a tentative conclusion on his part, and I am sure that that can be ironed out over the weekend.

MR. REGALADO: Yes, because I got my copy of that proposed resolution only yesterday, although I am the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Proposed Additional Commissions.
Thank you.

VI. Qualifications

MR. NOLLEDO:   In that case, assuming that we give that P.D. No. 1606 a category of the law, if that law is repealed by the legislature, the basis will be lost, meaning, the provision on whether or not they are removable by impeachment will also be correspondingly repealed. So I do not see any anachronism involved in the situation because the provision authorizing impeachment is not a constitutional provision, but a mere statutory provision. And when it is a statutory provision, it can be repealed.

MR. REGALADO:                  When I said the provision is an anachronism, I am referring to the present state of the law. But if the Commissioner will agree that this provision be eliminated, then the anachronism will not exist.

MR MONSOD:     For the information of the Commissioner, we were addressing ourselves here to the continuity of the institution, and we would welcome any suggestions or amendments at the proper time.

MR. REGALADO:                  Yes, that is why I said that this is without prejudice to an amendment, so that the Committee can enjoy its weekend going over these provisions. I think we should clarify Section 8 a little more, because it says:

The Ombudsman and his Deputies shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines, at least forty years old, with a college degree, or a member of the Philippine Bar.

Unless otherwise recast, it would appear that the Ombudsman himself need not be a member of the Philippine Bar, but with only a college degree.

MR. MONSOD:    I believe there might have been a typographical error here and, again, an amendment would be in order.

MR. REGALADO:                  Yes, thank you.

On Section 10, regarding the Ombudsman, there has been concern aired by Commissioner Rodrigo about who will see to it that the Ombudsman will perform his duties because he is something like a guardian of the government. This recalls the statement of Juvenal that while the Ombudsman is the guardian of the people, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodies,” who will guard the guardians? I understand here that the Ombudsman who has the rank of a chairman of a constitutional commission is also removable only by impeachment.

MR. ROMULO:  That is the intention, Madam President.

MR. REGALADO:  Only the Ombudsman?

MR. MONSOD:  Only the Ombudsman.

MR. REGALADO:  So not his deputies, because I am concerned with the phrase “have the rank of.” We know, for instance, that the City Fiscal of Manila has the rank of a justice of the Intermediate Appellate Court, and yet he is not a part of the judiciary. So I think we should clarify that also and read our discussions into the Record for purposes of the Commission and the Committee

MR. ROMULO:    Yes. If I may just comment: the Ombudsman in this provision is a rank in itself really. That is how we look at it. But for purposes of government classification and salary, we thought we have to give him a recognizable or an existing rank as a point of reference more than anything else.

MR. REGALADO:  Yes, but my concern is whether or not he is removable only by impeachment, because Section 2 enumerates the impeachable officials, and it does not mention public officers with the rank of constitutional commissioners.

MR. ROMULO: But we do mention them as the Ombudsman is mentioned in that enumeration. We use the word “Ombudsman” because we would like it to be his title; we do not want him called “Chairman” or “Justice.” We want him called Ombudsman.

MR. REGALADO: In connection also with that concern of Commissioner Rodrigo regarding the Ombudsman being merely a duplication, I have here the records of the former Ombudsman to show that one of the reasons he could not function in his administrative or recommendatory capacity was the number of cases for prosecution which took almost all his time. So I believe that there should really be an Ombudsman to take care of the recommendatory, policy-determining, policy-suggesting or administrative aspect of his position. The whole task of prosecution should be left to a regular Tanodbayan.

One more thing, and I think the Commissioner should look into this: In the Committee on Constitutional Commissions and Agencies where the Chairman and I enjoy each other’s company, there has been submitted Proposed Resolution No. 365 which seeks to constitutionalize a Commission on Human Rights with investigatory, reportorial and recommendatory powers insofar as violations of human rights are concerned. Would the Commissioner consider the possibility of having these functions of the proposed constitutional Commission on Human Rights ingrafted into the functions of the Ombudsman so that there will be no need to create another constitutional commission only for that purpose? But if these functions are taken over by the Ombudsman who himself is a constitutional officer, then, possibly, it will not only be economical for the government but it will result in nonduplication of the same investigatory, recommendatory and reportorial functions because these are limited under this proposed resolution to human rights violations. I think those functions should properly be absorbed by the Ombudsman because, after all, his functions cover all governmental institutions.

MR. MONSOD:    Madam President, the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Commissions and Agencies is not here, but I am a member of that Committee and we would like to tell the body that the Chairman and the members have accepted the idea of setting up a Commission on Human Rights because the violation of human rights is a very special problem in our country, and the Ombudsman really has a wide enough area of activities already. I think we should look at the Ombudsman not only as somebody who looks into offenses or crimes but also into government inefficiency, impropriety and misconduct that may not really amount to crime. And by definition that is already quite a wide and broad range of functions.

MR. REGALADO:  Madam President, I am the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Proposed Additional Constitutional Commissions in the same Committee, but I was never consulted on this matter. That is why when I went over this proposed resolution which seeks to create a new and additional constitutional commission, that was the first time I went over the proposed functions of that Commission on Human Rights and I had toyed with the idea that possibly they could be placed also under the duties and functions of the Ombudsman.

 
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