The Office of the Ombudsman abused its power and authority when it recommended the filing of charges against Vice President Jejomar Binay even if it knew that he cannot be indicted while in office, Binay’s camp said on Sunday.
In a statement, Rico Quicho, Binay’s spokesperson for political affairs, said Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales “clearly acted in bad faith” when she recommended that charges be filed against the vice president in connection with the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2.
“The Ombudsman clearly abused its power and exceeded its authority. And it acted in bad faith when it recommended charges against the Vice President,” Quicho said.
The Ombudsman’s action “was intended to malign and discredit the Vice President, who cannot be the subject of an indictment during his term of office,” he added.
Even the Office of the Ombudsman itself, through Ombudsman Field Investigating Office Acting Director Maria Janina Hidalgo, admitted the Vice President was immune from suit.
He quoted Hidalgo as saying that they will have to wait until the end of Binay’s term to file the charges.
Hidalgo also said that if Binay wins in the 2016 polls and becomes president, the Ombudsman would then file the charges after his six-year term.
In a 32-page motion for reconsideration filed on October 19, the lawyers for the Vice President said the law requires that an impeachable officer must first be removed from office by impeachment before charges against him can be investigated to determine probable cause.
They added the law does not give the Ombudsman jurisdiction to investigate impeachable officers.
“In proceeding with the investigation and subsequently issuing the Questioned Resolution, this Honorable Office clearly violated the Constitution and established jurisprudence on the matter. It acted without jurisdiction,” the lawyers said.
They argued that Binay’s right to due process was violated by the Ombudsman when it ignored the objection posed by the vice president that she has no jurisdiction over the case.
“It was only when the Questioned Resolution was issued that Respondent Binay was informed of this Honorable Office’s contrary position that is has jurisdiction and would therefore proceed with the investigation and render a resolution on the charges against him. Hence, Respondent Binay was deprived of any available remedy to question this Honorable Office’s position before the proper court,” the lawyers said.