Hon. Pelagio S. Apostol, Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas, dropped-by the University on his way to Ormoc City on June 14, 2012 and had a Dialogue-Forum with some VSU constituents at the Training Hall of VSU's Philippine Root Crop Research and Training Center (PhilRootcrops). In his welcome remarks, the University President, Dr. Jose L. Bacusmo, said that the VSU constituents were blessed to have the Deputy Ombudsman around to personally educate the VSU community on how to avoid committing mistakes and being prosecuted.


However, Deputy Omdusman Apostol said that "I came here not as a prosecutor but I would like to extend our hand requesting you to become a partner of the Office of the Ombudsman in the implementation of One Visayas Against Corruption."

The Ombudsman revealed three reasons why the fight against corruption in the country has failed: 1) We are not united, our efforts are uncoordinated; 2) We are not sincere in the implementation of our anti-corruption laws, rules and regulations. Even if we have world class controls, rules and regulations, which are being copied by other countries, we always have a problem with the implementation; and 3) We have a culture tolerating corruption.

Apostol added that, "If all our efforts will be directed towards one direction, nobody can be against us. The only way to win the war against corruption is to have a united front."

The Ombudsman said that VSU will play a very important role in the dissemination of graft prevention information and in conducting public accountability seminars. He also revealed two ways of dealing with a corrupt person: one is informing him/her about the penalties for being corrupt; the other is effecting change on the person from a corrupt life to a life of integrity.

Deputy Ombudsman Apostol also reiterated that the Office of the Ombudsman is a protector of government officials and employees. "We protect you by watching your back against possible harassment because 80% of the cases filed in the office are harassment cases. We will protect you for as long as you are doing your job."

He added that because of the culture of corruption in the country today, the priests' "Ehem... Aha! Project" had become popular. That is, to stop the person from committing a mistake, one may say "Ehem...' just to call the person's attention. If the person persists, one may say, "Aha!" catching him/her in the act of commission. "The intent maybe good, but under the civil service rules and regulations, when you short cut procedures, there is always a corresponding penalty or risk of being suspended from the office," added Ombudsman Apostol.

Ombudsman Apostol said that it is very important to include the youth in the fight against corruption because they have the strength to influence government policies.

He also reiterated the importance of partners, such as VSU, because the efforts of the Office of the Ombudsman will be in vain without the necessary documents and witnesses which only the partners could provide. Thus, he said, they are willing to hide the identity of the complainant when the situation so warrants.

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