PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said he would not choose another woman to succeed Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, whose term ends in July.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday night, Duterte said he wanted the country’s next Ombudsman to be a person with integrity and preferably not a politician or a woman.
“Mag-nominate sila pero I choose — Gusto ko ‘yung bilib ang tao sa integrity niya (They will nominate but I will choose. I want a person admired by the people due to integrity). Of course, it could not be politician lalo na hindi babae (especially not a woman),” Duterte said during a media interview in Malacañang.
Duterte made the statement after the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) accepted nominations for the Ombudsman post that reportedly included Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd.
Asked if he would pick Bello to become the next Ombudsman, Duterte said in jest: “I will assign him to — as labor attaché to — doon sa Kuwait.”
The JBC is tasked to screen the applicants to the bench, which includes the ombudsman and chief justice. It will draw up a shortlist that will be sent to the president, who holds the authority to appoint the next member of the judiciary.
Others vying for the spot are Supreme Court Justice Samuel Martires, Sandiganbayan Justice Efren de la Cruz, Special Prosecutor and former Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Edilberto Sandoval, Davao City Regional Trial Court Judge Carlos Espero 2nd, his law classmate Rex Rico and lawyers Rey Ifurung, Rainier Madrid, Felito Ramirez and Edna Batacan.
In choosing the next graft-buster, Duterte said he planned to consult the public, including those at the Office of the Ombudsman, on the replacement of Morales.
“I’ll have to consult everybody. I will even have to consult the Ombudsman people, not Morales, and marami, para sigurado ‘yung gusto ng tao (and others to make sure the person is accepted by the people),” he said.
Morales, an appointee of former president Benigno Aquino 3rd, will retire in July 26.
Last year, Duterte accused Morales of having mastered “the art of selective justice.”
In a thinly veiled threat, Duterte added that Morales’ hold onto her office was “very, very precarious.”
Duterte, since assuming the presidency nearly two years ago, has reaped criticisms and landed in the headlines for his remarks against women.
The Palace usually downplays the President’s remarks as mere jokes or sarcasm.
In a press conference, Palace spokesman Harry Roque defended anew Duterte’s recent remarks, saying that there is no discrimination against women being appointed in government.
“Hindi naman po siguro discrimination ‘yan pero (I don’t think it is discrimination [against women]but) I will clarify with him,” Roque told reporters.
“Sampu po sila (They’re are ten). So may the best men or women, best man or woman, prevail. Pero nasa JBC po ‘yan (But it’s up to the JBC). As I said the Ombudsman is also covered by the JBC. So the JBC will have to submit a shortlist of candidates for the position at ‘yun po ang pagpipilian ng ating Presidente,” he added. CATHERINE S. VALENTE