Conchita Morales is new OmbudsmanBy Maila Ager, Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III appointed as Ombudsman retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales.
Aquino announced the appointment during his second state of the nation address on Monday.
“When the new Ombudsman, former Supreme Court Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, takes office, we will have an honest-to-goodness anti-corruption office, not one that condones the corruption and abuses in government,” Aquino said in his speech delievered in Filipino.
“I expect that this year, we will have filed our first major case against the corrupt and their accomplices. And these will be real cases, with strong evidence and clear testimonies, which will lead to the punishment of the guilty,” Aquino said.
It will be recalled that Carpio-Morales administered the oath of office to Aquino when he took over the presidency on June 30, 2010. Aquino requested Carpio-Morales to administer his oath refusing to follow the tradition that the Chief Justice administer his oath because he had opposed the appointment of Chief Justice Renato Corona by then outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Carpio-Morales is 70 years old, eight years younger than her closest rival, former Justice Secretary Artemio Tuquero.
Carpio-Morales voted in favor of the creation of a Truth Commission, which aimed to investigate the Arroyo administration. She withdrew from the Chief Justice race after the retirement of Chief Justice Reynato Puno and dissented on the Supreme Court decision that the judiciary is not covered by the rule against midnight appointments. Carpio-Morales also dissented in the high court’s decision upholding former NEDA chairman Romulo Neri’s invocation of executive privilege in refusing the divulge information on the NBN/ZTE broadband deal. She also voted against the constitutionality of the Mining Act whose passage the Arroyo administration was pushing.
Carpio-Morales’ nomination got the most number of oppositors including former President Arroyo and former Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez.
She was appointed to the Supreme Court on Sept. 3, 2002. In 2000, she was a bar examiner in legal ethics.
She started her career as an assistant attorney at a private law firm from 1968 to 1971. In 1971, she worked as an assistant lawyer at the Department of Justice (DoJ). During the ’80s, she was appointed by the late President Ferdinand Marcos as a trial court judge. She became a Court of Appeals justice in 1994.
She is a cousin of another high court justice, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
Carpio-Morales will serve a full seven-year term at the Office of the Ombudsman.
She took over the post vacated by Merceditas Gutierrez who resigned from office after almost six years as Ombudsman after Congress has voted to push through with the impeachment case filed against her. Her resignation took effect last May 6.
Gutierrez was appointed in 2005 after her predecessor Simeon Marcelo also resigned after a three year stint at the Office of the Ombudsman for health reasons.
Prior to Marcelo was Aniano Desierto who, like Gutierrez, faced impeachment complaints.