President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales is not supposed to serve a full term of seven years, describing Morales’ hold on her post “precarious,” but party-mate and Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III contradicted Duterte.
Pimentel said that the 1987 Constitution mandates the Ombudsman to serve a full term.
“That’s my reading of the Constitution, 7 years. Seven years dapat, di sya lalagpas sa 7 years,” Pimentel said on August 30.
“So 2011, so 2018 si Ombudsman [matatapos],” he noted of when Morales’ term will end.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also shared the same interpretation of the Constitution.
“It is obvious that term is for a full 7 years. As distinguished from other constitutional officials, where it is expressly stated that the appointee who assumes the unexpired portion of the term will only serve the unexpired portion – the COA, the Comelec, for example. There is no such expressed provision on the Office of the Ombudsman,” Drilon, a former justice chief, told reporters.
“Her term will be finished in July 2018. It doesn’t make sense,” he added, referring to Duterte’s remark.
The 1987 Constitution states that appointees to constitutional commissions, citing the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Commission on Audit (COA), and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) specifically, should only serve the “unexpired portion of the term of the predecessor.” However, it did not specify the Office of the Ombudsman.
The 1987 Constitution also guaranteed that the Office of the Ombudsman from political interference and influence.
In its report, Rappler noted how Republic Act 6770, which provides for the “functional and structural organization of the Office of the Ombudsman,” the Overall Deputy shall serve as Acting Ombudsman “until a new Ombudsman shall have been appointed for a full term.”
Morales was appointed by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2011 to fill the post vacated by Merceditas Guiterrez who resigned after almost six years in office in the middle of her impeachment case.
On August 29, Duterte remarked that she is not entitled to serve a full seven-year term.
“But sad to say, recent events show that no less than the Office of the Ombudsman, which is supposedly the embodiment of everything that is just, fair and reasonable, has not exactly lived up to its constitutional mandate,” Duterte said of Morales.
“May I add, your hold [on] the office is very, very precarious. You’re supposed to serve the remaining terms of the guy who resigned, not to a full term, that is very clear under the law. But it has not been questioned until now. I do not know why,” he added.
Duterte also hit Morales for “selective justice” and mentioned the cases filed against former and incumbent senators, such as Senator Gringo Honasan and former Senator Jinggoy Estrada.
Duterte described Morales as “slow to act on complaints against the ‘friendly’ but quick to decide against perceived ‘hostiles.’”
“The Office of the Ombudsman rightly stresses the importance of ‘due process of law.’ Yet it cannot act on complaints with the ‘cold neutrality of an impartial tribunal,’ which is basically required in ‘due process,” the President said.
“It seems that the Office of the Ombudsman has mastered the art of selective justice,” the President added.
The President also urged Morales to use “the remaining months of your incumbency the remaining months of your incumbency be truly reflective of your mandate to do justice to everyone without favour or bias.”
Morales has slammed Duterte before and recently condemned his threats to kill criminals. She also remarked that Duterte cannot interfere with the Ombudsman’s investigations.