20 January 2012

Secretary of Justice LEILA M. DE LIMA today issued three action documents signifying and conveying her official action on the Report of the Fact-Finding Panel on the NORIYO OHARA case.

Through a Memorandum dated 20 January 2012, addressed to Prosecutor General CLARO A. ARELLANOof the National Prosecution Service (NPS), Secretary De Lima signified that she is acknowledging and noting the factual findings of the Panel, and is, thereby, forwarding the Report to the Prosecutor General for appropriate action.

Throughout the proceedings of the fact-finding investigation, sworn statements from individuals involved, including the private offended parties, such as Ohara herself and members of the Marzan family, were submitted and gathered. These, along with the other supporting documents, shall be transmitted to the Prosecutor General, along with the Report. It is now up to the Prosecutor General to determine whether there is sufficient basis to initiate preliminary investigation proceedings against those named in the Report for their participation in the crinlinal activities that arose from the now-infamous operation, conducted last 29 October 2011, by individuals who claimed to be acting as officials and personnel of the NBI.

However, with regards to the recommendation to criminally charge former Director MAGTANGGOL B. GATDULA, action thereon was directed to be held in abeyance, pending the submission of the Fact-Finding Panel of their Supplemental Report on this point.

For that purpose, Secretary De Lima also issued Department Order No. 047, dated 20 January 2012, re-constituting the Panel for the sole purpose of re-assessing and re-evaluating the recommendation to charge Director Gatdula for Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention. Citing the need to exercise "utmost prudence and diligence in this highly rank, status and sensitivity of the position once held by the former NBI Director, juxtaposed against the gravity of the charges against him, the Secretary of Justice directed the re-constituted Panel, in the interest of the service and public interest, to review and reassess the exact culpability of Director Gatdula, particularly as to the extent and nature of his participation and criminal liability. The re-constituted Panel was given up to 30 January 2012 to submit its Supplemental Report.

As to the recommendation to file administrative charges against involved government officials and employees, in a letter dated 20 January 2012, Secretary De Lima indorsed the Report, along with all its supporting documents and annexes, to Ombudsman CONCHITA CARPIO-MORALES for appropriate "action, pursuant to the Ombudsman's mandate under Section "13 of the Ombudsman Act (R.A. 6770), to enforce the administrative liability of "officers or employees of the Government, or of any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including overnment-owned or controlled corporations, ... where the evidence warrants in order to promote efficient service by the Government to the people."

According to the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman, "[a]ll elective and appointive officials of the government and its subdivisions, instrumentalities and agencies, including Members of the Cabinet, local governments, government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries are subject to the disciplinary authority of the Office of the Ombudsman," with the exception of Members of Congress, the Judiciary, and officials removable only by impeachnlent. The Ombudsman has the authority to initiate administrative disciplinary proceedings against the concerned NBI officials and employees, should she find the Report sufficient basis therefor.

All three action documents were simultaneously released this morning.

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