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Ombudsman finally denies flood control scam probe

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By Czarina Nicole Ong

After initially trying to remain neutral regarding the reported probe on the flood control scam, Ombudsman Samuel Martires has finally decided to set the record straight – there is no investigation being conducted.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires

Ombudsman Samuel Martires

It was House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. who first broke the news that the Office of the Ombudsman has requested copies of testimonial and documentary evidence from his office regarding the alleged flood control scam in Sorsogon.

Andaya made this revelation earlier this year during a congressional hearing in Naga City, and he tagged Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno as the culprit behind the said anomalies.

The Camarines Sur lawmaker said in a statement that “the Office of the Ombudsman has noticed red flags of corruption on the evidence presented and on the testimonies made during the hearing,” and he made a commitment to be relentless in “digging for the truth.”

But Martires has now refuted Andaya’s claims, saying that these are “inaccurate.”

“Truth of the matter is, we have not seen any red flag even from the horizon because we have not been sufficiently educated as to the subject matter of the privilege speeches of Sen. Lacson and Rep. Andaya, and we have yet to fully investigate the matter,” he said.

Martires likewise said it is “imprecise” for Andaya to report that the Office of the Ombudsman has requested documents concerning the public hearing in Naga City.

He clarified that it was a certain Mr. Baquiran who approached an Ombudsman investigator and asked if their office would need documents generated during the public hearing in Naga City.

“Naturally, any well-meaning investigator will not refuse any information that may enlighten him or the office on the subject matter,” said Martires. However, he would like to stress that there is no investigation yet. “As of the moment, we are only in the process of gathering documents,” he said.

If Andaya is really keen for the Ombudsman to start its probe, Martires has a suggestion. “It would be more prudent for the House of Representatives to conduct its investigation and, if it has sufficient evidence to prove its allegations, to file the appropriate complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman,” he said.

“It is not good to drag the Office of the Ombudsman into this feud between the Office of the Secretary of Budget and Management and the House of Representatives,” he added.

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