Sep 172014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2005/10/05MANILA5012.html

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA5012
2005-10-25 03:35
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO9291
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT
DE RUEHML #5012/01 2980335
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 250335Z OCT 05
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6859
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEAHLC/DHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJA/DOJ WASHDC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 005012

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, INR/EAP, INR/B, EB
DEPT PLEASE PASS TO USAID C. DOWNEY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KCOR ECON EAID PINR RP
SUBJECT: SEARCH FOR NEXT OMBUDSMAN — GRP’S KEY ANTI- CORRUPTION OFFICIAL — CONTINUES

REF: A. MANILA 4693
¶B. MANILA 0740
¶C. MANILA 0234
¶D. 04 MANILA 4019

¶1. (U) This message is Sensitive But Unclassified — Please
handle accordingly.

¶2. (SBU) Summary: The GRP’s Judicial and Bar Council is
reviewing possible candidates to replace Ombudsman Simeon
Marcelo, who is resigning on November 30. Favored
candidates include Presidential Legal Counsel Mercy
Gutierrez and Anti-Graft Court Justice Diosdado Peralta. It
is not clear when the Council will settle on its list and
submit it to Malacanang, but it should be soon. A USAID-
funded project is assisting the Council, civil society
groups, and the media to inform the selection process and
keep it transparent. The challenge for the GRP is to find a
worthy successor to Marcelo, who played a key role in
ramping up the GRP’s anti-corruption efforts. Mission
continues to urge the GRP to find an effective candidate to
fill the key position. End Summary.

————————-
Search for Next Ombudsman
————————-

¶3. (SBU) The GRP’s Judicial and Bar Council is reviewing
possible candidates to replace Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo, who
is resigning effective November 30 due to what he attributed
to problems with his health (ref A). (Note: The Office of
the Ombudsman is an independent body charged with rooting
out corruption in the government. Marcelo’s reasons for
resigning are still not entirely clear. Some members of the
Opposition have asserted that he is quitting because he is
frustrated with the government, though Marcelo has said
nothing to confirm this. End Note.) The Council has been
meeting regularly since Marcelo unexpectedly announced his
resignation on September 30. Members of the Council include
Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide (chairman),
Secretary of Justice Raul Gonzalez, Senator Francis

SIPDIS
Pangilinan, three representatives from the legal sector, and
one private sector representative.

¶4. (U) Citizens have until October 31 to nominate
candidates by forwarding their names to the Council, which
has so far received 11 names. After interviewing the
candidates, the Council will select three nominees and will
forward this short list to Malacanang. It is not clear when
the Council will settle on its list, though members have
indicated that they aim to do so before Marcelo leaves his
post. The President is obliged to choose one candidate from
this list within three months of the departure of the
current Ombudsman. The President’s appointee is not subject
to Congressional confirmation.

——————
Favored Candidates
——————

¶5. (SBU) Favored candidates to succeed Marcelo reportedly
include:

— Maria Merceditas “Mercy” Gutierrez, Chief Presidential
legal counsel;

–Diosdado Peralta, Associate Justice of the Sandiganbayan
(Anti-Graft Court);

— Raul Angangco, a name partner at the powerful Villaraza &
Angangco law firm (Note: Although many observers have
speculated that Angangco is a leading candidate, his name
has not yet been forwarded to the Judicial and Bar Council
by anyone in the public. End Note.);

— Margarito Gervacio, current Deputy Ombudsman (effectively
the number two official in the Office of the Ombudsman);

— Vic Fernandez, Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon; and,

— Dennis Villa-Ignacio, Chief Special Prosecutor at the
Office of the Ombudsman.

————-

MANILA 00005012 002 OF 002

USAID Project
————-

¶6. (U) A USAID-funded project is assisting the Judicial and
Bar Council, civil society groups, and the media to better
inform the selection process and keep it transparent. The
NGO “Transparency and Accountability Network” (TAN), working
with The Asia Foundation, is scheduled to launch a USD
21,000 project on October 26 called “Ombudsman Appointment
Watch II.” (Note: TAN’s successful campaign for a
transparent and informed selection process in the first
“Ombudsman Watch” in 2002 resulted in the appointment of
Simeon Marcelo. End Note.) TAN is seeking to encourage
civil society groups to play a more active role in the
Judicial and Bar Council’s nomination process, to engage the
media in order to raise awareness of the importance of the
Ombudsman’s role and the selection process, and to
institutionalize public participation in future selection
processes. One of TAN’s first actions (actually undertaken
before the formal launch of the project) was to successfully
lobby the Council to extend the deadline for nominations
from October 15 to October 31 in order to facilitate wider
public participation.

——-
Comment
——-

¶7. (SBU) The challenge for the GRP is to find a worthy
successor to Marcelo, who played a key role in ramping up
the GRP’s anti-corruption efforts. The conviction rate at
the Ombudsman’s Office under his tenure has significantly
increased — helped by both a greater budget allocation from
the government and U.S. assistance in capacity building for
administrative staff, investigators, and prosecutors.
Mission continues to urge the GRP to find an effective
candidate for this key position. So far, Gutierrez and
Peralta seem to be the leading candidates. Peralta, in
particular, has impressive credentials and maintains respect
among many observers. Malacanang faces a tough choice —
and it will be widely criticized by foreign investors and
others if it makes some sort of non-transparent move and
fails to pick a highly regarded candidate.

BELLARD

   

 

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