Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales won’t participate in her office’s probe of the killings allegedly executed by the so-called “Davao Death Squad” allegedly formed by President Rodrigo Duterte when he was mayor of Davao City.
Morales made the announcement at the sidelines of the Ramon Magsaysay Awards ceremonies in Manila on Thursday. Morales is a 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee, considered the Nobel Peace Prize of Asia.
“I have inhibited myself in the case because one of those [whom]Matobato [wants]charged is the President. Naturally, I will inhibit,” Morales said.
Lawyer Manases Carpio, husband of President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, is Morales’ nephew.
The complaint was filed by self-confessed Davao Death Squad hitman Edgar Matobato.
Last year, Matobato testified before the Senate that then Mayor Duterte ordered him and the death squad to kill suspected criminals for a price.
Matobato’s complaint is set to be investigated, the ombudsman said.
“I would confirm that it came to my knowledge that the preliminary investigation [on the Matobato complaint]has been set,” Morales added.
Morales also said she was not quitting, two days after President Duterte accused her of “selective justice” and being hard on political enemies of the previous Aquino administration but soft on allies.
The retired Supreme Court justice cited the Ombudsman Act of 1989. “Based on the law, in case of death, resignation or permanent disability, the deputy ombudsman will serve as the ombudsman until a new ombudsman is appointed, who shall serve on a full term,” she said.
An ombudsman serves for seven years, meaning Morales’ term will end in June 2018.
“We are just following the law,” she said.
Morales was appointed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd in June 2011 or two months before her predecessor, Merceditas Gutierrez, resigned ahead of a looming Senate impeachment trial.
The ombudsman denied Duterte’s allegations.
“Under the law, we are to give priority to high-profile cases and high government officials who hold supervisory positions. We do not do selective justice. The opposition in the past administration now belongs to the majority (administration),” Morales said.
It was during Morales’ watch when then opposition senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. were prosecuted and jailed for plunder cases in connection with their alleged misuse of priority development assistance funds or PDAF.
Morales said dispensing cases took time, considering her predecessor left 19,000 unattended complaints, and 35,000 complaints have been filed since she took office in 2011.
“We are slow? There are a lot of cases in the past which have remained dormant. There is even a case dating back to 1999. Can you imagine?” Morales pointed out.
‘Duterte wants Morales, Sereno removed’
Detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Thursday said President Duterte intends to put people in the judiciary whom he can trust to protect him from prosecution in the future as a result of his “bloody” war on drugs.
She believes the President has a hand in the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, which has been endorsed by 25 lawmakers. De Lima also took note of the President’s latest tirades against the Ombudsman.
“When that day comes, he is making sure that the Ombudsman and the Judiciary are in his pocket. Until then, Duterte will use everything in his power to misdirect the people’s attention,” said de Lima, who is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
with BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO