SAYING she has nothing to hide, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Friday remained unfazed by the threat of President Rodrigo Duterte to file an impeachment complaint against her.
“Yeah, it’s welcome. It has been booted about since last year so never mind,” Morales told a television interview over GMA-7.
“I can stand my ground. I have nothing to hide, therefore I’m not fearing anything.”
After the Office of the Ombudsman said it would investigate allegations that the President had billions in ill-gotten wealth, Duterte said he wanted Morales impeached.
Morales, however, said she does not mind Duterte’s threat.
“I’m being scared? No, never, I have nothing to hide,” she said.
She said she is ready to die anytime.
“I’m a fatalist, if it comes, it comes. The only reason all these threats or security concerns were raised is because when I was new, a hand grenade was placed along the fence of my house,” she said.
On May 30, 2012, a hand grenade was recovered near the house of Morales at the Carpio compound, Soldiers’ Hills Village, Putatan, Muntinlupa City.
The live M-26 hand grenade was found inside a small canister left at the back perimeter fence near the gate of Morales’ house.
Hundreds of Morales supporters flocked to the Office of the Ombudsman to dramatize their support for her amid Duterte’s impeachment threats.
Opposition groups, including former Department of Social Welfare and Development secretary Corazon Soliman, belonging to Tindig Pilipinas, The Silent No More Organization, Magdalo group and Prayer Battalion for Truth and Justice, attended the Mass co-celebrated by running priest Robert Reyes and three other priests.
Apart from Soliman, the other Aquino-appointed Cabinet members present in the affair were ex-Education secretary Bro. Armin Luistro and ex-Commission on Human Rights chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, an opposition lawmaker who had filed a failed impeachment complaint against Duterte, was also present.
Soliman hit Duterte for the creation of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission that will look into alleged irregularities at the Ombudsman.
Morales must not be intimidated by Duterte’s threats, Luistro said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Friday warned Executive Order No. 43 creating the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission will violate the core principles of independence and checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution if it will be extended outside the executive branch.
“By virtue of constitutional independence, the EO cannot be used to discipline or recommend actions against any member, official and employee of other branches of government, including Congress, the Judiciary, Civil Service Commission, Commission on Audit, Commission on Elections, Commission on Human Rights, and the Office of the Ombudsman,” Drilon said.
Drilon said that the Supreme Court, in many cases, upheld the constitutional independence of offices such as the Ombudsman and disallowed the President to remove or discipline officials belonging to the constitutional bodies.
Hence, Drilon said that a provision in the EO “may be legally challenged” as an infringment on the independence of other branches of government and constitutional bodies.
But Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Duterte’s move was “a good development in the fight against corruption at all fronts.”
“No agency can claim that corruption is totally nonexistent. Corruption is happening at every level, from lowest level to the highest echelons. I welcome this additional mechanism to combat the culture of corruption in our government system,” he said.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III declined to comment, saying he had not yet read the EO.
Under the order, the commission may also conduct lifestyle checks and fact-finding inquiries on acts or omissions of all presidential appointees, including those outside the executive branch of government.
The newly created commission’s executive mandate is to “directly assist the President in investigating and/or hearing administrative cases primarily involving graft and or corruption against all presidential appointees.”
The commission would have “power, on a complaint, or motu proprio, and concurrently with the Office of the Ombudsman to hear, investigate, receive, gather, and evaluate evidence, intelligence reports, and information in administrative cases against all presidential appointees.”
The anti-corruption commission, which will compose of a chairman and four commissioners, was formed amid Duterte’s allegations of corruption and “selective justice” against Morales and officials of the anti-graft agency.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said the way the order was worded, the commission will obviously have law enforcement but not prosecutorial powers, so “inevitably, they will have to refer to the Office of the Ombudsman all corruption cases they will investigate.”