Is Morales Aquino’s Ombudsman?

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Emeterio Sd. Perez

BLOOD, as an old saying goes, may be thicker than water. However, loyalty could now be much thicker than blood.

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Loyalty counts much more in deciding who must suffer and who must not the consequences of either venial or mortal sin. No matter how the public perceives loyalty, their perception of what is just and what is not may not mean much anymore.

To illustrate: Conchita Carpio-Morales heads the Office of the Ombudsman. She is addressed as “Ombudsman” and not “Ombudswoman” or “Ombudsperson.”

To Due Diligencer, she is the most powerful person in government, standing up against no less than President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Morales ended up as ombudsman after Merceditas Gutierrez left the office vacant when she resigned on April 29, 2011.

Born on June 19, 1941, Morales retired from the Supreme Court when she turned 70, the mandatory retirement age for judges and justices. Did the call of duty persuade her to serve the people again?

Aquino’s “Ombudsman”

Morales was the personal choice of President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino 3rd to become ombudsman. She was specifically mentioned as his candidate in his State of the Nation Address on July 25, 2011.

Even if she was a presidential appointee, she must be loyal to the people and not to the appointing power.
Is she?

There must be a reason Aquino picked Morales as ombudsman. She had reached the retirement age of 70 as an associate justice but she needed to retire first from the Supreme Court before she could get a new appointment, which happened to be as ombudsman.

Nevertheless, a poser remains. Where does Morales’ loyalty lie? Is she for Aquino or for the people that she was supposed to have sworn to serve?

In arguing against President Duterte, Morales appeared more to be on Aquino’s side, making her his ombudsman.

(There is enough time to correct this impression, which is wrong, and the responsibility to bring the Office of the Ombudsman back to the people belongs to the President.)

The public has the right to know the real score behind the controversies surrounding the cases filed by Ombudsman Morales against former President Aquino.

Compensation

It could not have been money that attracted Morales back to service. Here’s why.

According to the Commission on Audit, as ombudsman, Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez received P1,357,375 in 2010 while Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando C. Casimiro was paid P1,182,808. Of the six assistant ombudsmen, Mary Susan Guilermo was the highest paid and the only millionaire, with compensation of P1,010,785.

At the Supreme Court, Morales topped all 15 justices in pays and perks. As one of 14 associate justices, she received P1,923,622 in 2010, even topping Chief Justice Renato Corona’s P1,832,620.

Morales got a lower basic salary of P616,680 than Gutierrez’s P787,811. [NOTE: WERE THE NUMBERS MIXED UP? GUTIERREZ HAD A BIGGER BASIC SALARY BASED ON THIS SENTENCE.] But she also received more perks that totaled P1,306,942, almost twice the latter’s P569,564. Her pay of P1,306,942 in 2010 included allowances of P451,070, and bonus, incentives and benefits of P695,872. These dwarfed Gutierrez’s P136,000 and P87,564, respectively.

Allowances and bonus, incentives and benefits are COA’s classifications of the compensation of top government officials.

Due Diligencer’s take

Did Aquino foresee the need for a friendlier and more cooperative ombudsman that he probably saw only in Morales?

The question begs for an answer that only Morales can ably provide. As the ombudsman, she has the duty to tell the people the truth. Definitely, the people will listen to reason and will not jump hastily into conclusion that SHE is the OMBUDSMAN exclusively for Aquino, who waited for her to become available for a new appointment.

While Due Diligencer has made its point, as the writer of this piece, I, too, am willing to listen to reason as long as the reason is justifiable.

Why did Morales downgrade of the charges against Aquino in the 2015 Mamasapano encounter where some soldiers died in fighting the rebels? She knew that he was the soldiers’ commander in chief.

Of course, there is also the question why Morales, as ombudsman, cleared Aquino of any responsibility over the illegal release of P72 billion under the now infamous Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Only former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad was in her charge sheet.

Finally, should Morales be loyal only to Aquino? Just asking.

esdperez@gmail.com

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