As others improve tech vs corruption, Martires focuses on values formation

MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Samuel Martires said on Thursday, July 25, that he will "shift" the focus of the campaign against corruption from prosecution to "religious education" and "values formation," convinced that these were the only ways to effectively address the problem.

"I will assure everyone that I will shift from prosecution and investigation to values formation and religious education as the main entry points in preventing corruption," Martires at a multi-sectoral meet attended by representatives from the education sector and religious groups on Thursday.

Martires said that he will stick to this vision even as his foreign counterparts were striving to improve technology and traditional methods to better prosecute corruption.

"I noticed that the developed countries are putting more emphasis on strengthening the prosecutorial and investigative functions, imposing  stricter penalties, while some of them are developing or improving technology infrastructure, particularly artificial intelligence. We all know however that technology and ethics speak different languages," Martires said.

Martires said he wants the Office of the Ombudsman to have a partnership with the Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to better integrate values formation into the curriculum.

Martires went beyond and said the values Filipinos have today are based on what society had allowed, and cited socially "tolerated" acts he perceived to be immoral and disrespectful.

"Noong araw, walang nanganganak na walang asawa; bihira 'yun. Walang nagsasama na walang kasal. Subalit dahil sa tolerance ng ating society, puwede na magsama ang babae at lalake – that is the values derived from society," said Martires.

(In the old days, no one gives birth to a child without a husband; that's rare. No one cohabitates without marriage. But because of society's tolerance, a man and a woman can live together – that is values derived from society.)

Martires added: "Maraming mga babaeng matatanda, marami nang silhouettes ang mga hita, nagshoshort pants pa rin na nagsisimba, maluluwag ang sleeves ng mga damit kahit alam nilang kulubot na ang kanilang kilikili. 'Yan ba ay pagrespeto sa Diyos?

(There are many old women who have silhouettes on their legs who still wear short pants when they go to Church, or tops with loose sleeves even though they know they have wrinkly underarms. Is that respect for God?)


Martires said he was exploring talks to amend Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act so that it would cover the private sector even in cases that do not involve public funds. 

"That is the only way we can change this society, not just this government. We have to extend the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act to the private sector," said Martires.

Martires added, "Anyone who says that values formation is not the key, the only key to fight or prevent corruption, is demonic or kampon ni Satanas (spawn of Satan)."

When he assumed office in August 2018, Martires said he was eyeing a reorganization of his office which he described as "top-heavy."

Martires also promised to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) when he was applying for the post that he would institute technological reforms to speed up the investigation which, in effect, would help weed out corruption during the process where alleged "parking fees" were being paid.

Martires has also adopted a media blackout policy to avoid public persecution of those facing charges.

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.