Solon says independence of SC, Ombudsman ‘under siege’
The independence of the Supreme Court and the Office of the Ombudsman is “under siege,” according to Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.
The House opposition leader described attempts to put pressure on Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales through impeachment or investigation as “dubious and malevolent attempts to wreck democratic institutions.”
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday reiterated his call on Sereno and Morales, whom he called “corrupt,” to resign.
The Office of the Ombudsman is investigating allegations that Mr. Duterte amassed more than a billion pesos in unexplained wealth when he was Davao City mayor but he said he would not submit to the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.
Lagman suggested that the impeachment case against Sereno and the reported plans of filing a similar complaint against Morales might have the backing of the administration, “apparently at the behest” of President Duterte.
“The constitutionally guaranteed independence of the Supreme Court and the Office of the Ombudsman is under siege without legitimate anchorage,” he said.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano has prepared a resolution asking lawmakers to “express the sense of the House of Representatives in support of” the Office of the Ombudsman “in pursuit of its mandate as a vanguard against corruption in government.”
In the Senate, Liberal Party senators raised the alarm over the string of attacks and threats by Mr. Duterte and his allies on the Office of the Ombudsman, Supreme Court and the Commission on Human Rights.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon described the threats on these institutions as “veiled attempts” of the administration to consolidate power.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the President’s attempt to intimidate the three independent institutions was weakening the country’s democracy and respect for the rule of law.