Ombudsman forms team to handle investment-related complaints

President Benigno S. Aquino III answers questions during the annual Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) Presidential Forum at the Solaire Resort in Parañaque City on Tuesday (October 27). The FOCAP forum is a traditional event where the President discusses key policies and answers questions on foreign affairs, politics, the economy and social issues from the foreign media. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III answers questions during the annual Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) Presidential Forum at the Solaire Resort in Parañaque City on Tuesday (October 27). The FOCAP forum is a traditional event where the President discusses key policies and answers questions on foreign affairs, politics, the economy and social issues from the foreign media. (MNS photo)

MANILA  (Mabuhay) – The Office of  the Ombudsman has recently launched a separate team tasked to investigate investment-related complaints against public officials.

In a multi-sectoral investment forum held in Mandaluyong City, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales announced the creation of the Office of the Investment Ombudsman (OIO), citing the high number of “grievances, complaints and other investment-related concerns” involving local government officials.

Morales noted that aside from poor infrastructure, corruption remains to be the primary reason why foreign investors are discouraged from doing business in the country.

“Corruption, political instability and poor infrastructure are the main reasons behind the country’s slow investment growth,” Morales said during her speech. “Bureaucratic red tape must be curbed in order to encourage more foreign investors to conduct businesses in the Philippines.”

Citing government records, Morales said the country’s foreign direct investments (FDIs) remain to be the lowest compared to its neighbor countries in Southeast Asia.

“A productive private sector investment is an important driver for economic growth. Alam natin na kapag maganda ang economy natin, it will benefit the entire Filipino people. But sometimes, among other things, the problem of some investors is that there [are] a lot of red tapes,” Morales told reporters in a chance interview after the event.

To cite an example, Morales said one foreign steel manufacturing company took two years just to secure an environmental compliance certificate.

“Madi-discourage ang investors kung ganyan katagal, compliance certificate pa lang iyan, ano pa kaya kung with respect to the issuance of permits to start business?” Morales said. “That’s why the Office of the Ombudman felt the need to step in.”

Based on Office Circular No. 6 Series of 2016 issued by Morales early this month, the OIO will be operational in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and in the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (MOLEO).

The OIO shall be headed by an Investment Ombudsman assisted by an executive director, executive staff, an executive officer and not more than three action officers.

Those who will serve as the Investment Ombudsmen are the incumbent Deputy Ombudsmen for Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and MOLEO.

“The IOs (Investment Ombudsmen) shall prioritize and take cognizance of the investment-related grievances, concerns and complaints received from investor/s,” the circular read.

Below are the scope of the OIO’s investigation against public officials and employees based on the circular:

Delay in the delivery of frontline services relating to the establishment or conduct of business;

Solicitation, demand or request by a government official or employee in exchange for the issuance of licenses, permits and certificates, the release of shipment and cargoes, as well as the arbitrary assessment of fees for the conduct of business;

Issuance of licenses, permits and certificates in relation to business, to any person not qualified or legally entitled thereto;

Any other delay or refusal to comply with the referral or directive of the IO;

Any other act or omission of a public official or employee that is illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient in connection with the conduct of business by public or private companies. (MNS)

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