The Ombudsman

MANILA, Philippiness --- THE role Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales played as a witness in the impeachment trial has been climactic, perhaps the most dramatic testimony before Chief Justice Renato Corona's own.

This puts the Ombudsman as an institution in the spotlight, an opportunity for the greater public to understand and appreciate how critical it is in governance.

The origins of the Ombudsman is traced back to 1713 when Charles XII, King of the Swedish Empire, signed an ordinance appointing a Supreme Royal Ombudsman whose task was to ensure that civil servants, military officers, and judges followed the law. As the king was on frequent military campaigns, he felt the need to have a formal mechanism to keep an eye on his royal officials.

The Swedish Constitution of 1809 established the Parliamentary Ombudsman of Sweden and made it independent of the king. Its primary task is to keep public servant in check - the concept of the Ombudsman we know today.

However, this concept was not adopted internationally until well into the 20th century, and initially just by the Scandinavian nations Finland, Denmark, and Norway. The concept gained greater traction beginning the 1960's. Today, the Ombudsman is an integral feature of democratic governance.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) together with the Asian Ombudsman Association (AOA) undertook a two-year study about strengthening the Ombudsman institutions in Asia. The report shows that the formal institution was created in Asia later than in the rest of the world, though some ancient civilizations had a similar official or office in place.

Countries like China and Vietnam had supposedly established ombudsman offices in the early 1940's but later on modified their functions. Japan's Administrative Evaluation Bureau created in 1966 is the oldest original office that remains intact today. Meanwhile, the youngest one in Asia is that of Pakistan, established in 2005. Our own was established through the 1987 Constitution.

One observation in the study is very interesting, and even puts into question the common notions we have of the role of the Ombudsman. The conventional view is that the Ombudsman paves the way for better governance. On the contrary, the study shows that better governance leads to better Ombudsman offices, as exemplified by Japan, Hong Kong, and Korea.

In the Philippines, we imbue greater power - and hope - in the Ombudsman's ability to exact accountability and promote transparency. Ombudsman Carpio Morales' testimony underscored that yet again.

The AOA-ADB project recommends core principles for reform of the Asian ombudsman institutions. Among them are the institutionalization of the mode of ombudsman appointment, expansion of jurisdiction, provision of financial and administrative security, enabling access to information by lowering the threshold of confidentiality, ombudsman input into administrative reform and public policy, institutional networking around the globe, and promoting scholarly research. Our ultimate goal should be to boost the Ombudsman's credibility and effectiveness.

There is a clear correlation between corruption and development. The public sector cannot do it alone, the private sector and civil society must get firmly on board. But most importantly, there should be a national strategy that will enable all sectors to perform their roles in a concentrated and coordinated manner.

Email: Web site:


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Southwest transport terminal construction start still in limbo

    The construction of the country’s first intermodal transport facility is in limbo as both the government and the winning private concessionaire are waiting on each other before finally pushing through with the contract signing. Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the ongoing titling of the project site for the R2.5-billion Integrated Transport System (ITS) Southwest Terminal should not delay the concession agreement signing, which has been indefinitely postponed since February …

  • Jesuit school confers honors on Deles, Ferrer, Iqbal

    Despite heavy opposition from the alumni and even parents of students, Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan conferred on Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles a degree on Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa Wednesday. The Jesuit-run university also recognized the other major players in the ongoing peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as it awarded GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and …

  • Mobile market tapped for saleable items worth P21B

    With more than P21 billion worth of saleable items in Philippine households, online classifieds website OLX Philippines is aiming to tap this market by targeting mobile phone users who could be potential sellers and buyers of second hand items. OLX Philippines hopes to provide better support to mobile users with the OLX app since 50 percent of the website’s traffic is generated by mobile users. “We will soon become a mobile first company,” said OLX Philippines co-founder RJ David in a press …

  • Clark to host drag racing

    Drag racing takes an exciting turn as top guns try to push their respective bids in the third leg of the 2015 Philippine Drag Racing Championship Northern Series at the Clark International Speedway.Former US servicemen William “Bill” Hand and John Ryzia of the Angeles City Hot Rod Association (AHRA)-Garage Power hope to steer their respective American V8 muscle cars to repeat wins to secure solo leadership in their respective divisions. ... …

  • The greatest city in the world

    Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) proudly brought back our flag to the Big Apple when it landed at the JFK Airport last March 15, after an 18-year hiatus. The Manila-Vancouver-New York route 18 years ago was terminated due to an expensive leasing arrangement and the Asian financial crisis. JFK Airport at Queens Borough is 15 miles to midtown Manhattan, connected via the New York subway train system. Consider it normal if you can make it to Manhattan under two hours. …

  • The future of the BPO/KPO industry

    One of the few economic sectors in which the Philippines is a global player is the Business Process Outsourcing/Knowledge Processing Outsourcing (BPO/KPO) industry. According to a recent report of the Everest Group entitled “Global Trends in the Contact Center Market and Opportunities in the Philippines,” our country is the leader in the offshore/nearshore English Contact Center Outsourcing (CCO) market with some 36% share. In the Philippines, the growth has been close to 20% over the last …

  • Ars gratia artis

    The Ateneo Art Gallery, widely recognized today as the first museum of Philippine modern art showcasing works by postwar Filipino artists. Its “pilot,” Ateneo President Fr. Ramon Jose Villarin, SJ, admits that it “runs on the fuel of the generosity and munificence of its donors.”ARTISTS, MODELS, & MEDICIS. Last Monday, 23 March, four recent acquisitions were added to the collection. A Fernando Amorsolo life-size portrait of Liliana de Asis (1952) was a gift of Francisco and Mila de Asis and …

  • Baranda, Dumlao star in Vios Cup

    Defending champion Pauland Dumlao and showbiz personality Phoemela Baranda won their respective heats at the start of the Vios Cup Season 2 held recently at the Clark International Speedway in Pampanga.Dumlao of Team Toyota San Fernando took the second heat of the Sporting Class category while Baranda ruled the first heat of the Promotional Class division to open the second staging of the event organized by Toyota Motor Philippines. ... …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options