Watchdog lacks resources to probe MPs

Source: By JEFFREY ELAPA

THE Ombudsman Commission lacks the resources to investigate and determine whether the constitution was breached when parliament adjourned last month to November, a panel of its officers told public radio.

Faced with a move to oust the prime minister, the government adjourned parliament to November, creating a safety buffer till then. The November session was necessary for parliament to approve next year’s budget. The constitution required parliament to sit no less than 63 days in a calendar year.

Former chief ombudsman Ila Geno went to court several years ago when parliament adjourned for a long period, and the Supreme Court ruled that the constitution was breached. Members who adjourned parliament then were subjected to a fine prescribed by law, but this was not pursued.

Ombudsman commissioners John Nero and Phoebe Sangetari and legal counsel Vergil Narokobi said during a talkback programme on Monday evening on Karai national radio that it was important to uphold the constitution. They said the option of going to court to establish a breach of the constitution, following complaints by the opposition and sections of the community, was there.

However, they said they did not have the resources to investigate the adjournment of parliament and the members who were present on the floor then. “Because resources are not available, investigation is not possible,” Nero said. They said they were not afraid or shying away from their responsibilities.

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