Retired associate justice doesn’t mind ‘going down’ to Ombudsman’s level
MANILA, Philippines—Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales laid down the steps she would do if appointed to the post vacated by Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, including crafting information and trial preparations to ensure a higher rate of successful prosecution of erring government officials.
Morales was the first to be interviewed by the JBC on Thursday, the second day of public interview for aspirants to replace Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez who resigned last month amid threats of impeachment. Morales retired from the Supreme Court at the mandatory age of 70 last July 19. She administered the oath of office to President Benigno Aquino III and is said to be Aquino’s favorite to replace Gutierrez.
Asked by JBC member retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Regino Hermosisima why she wants to go down to the level of Ombudsman when she has been to the Supreme Court as an associate justice, Morales answered, “One should not look at appointment from the point of view of ranking. We should look at it from where contribution to eradication of graft and corruption is….As far as I am concerned, I am not a title-conscious person; going to the Ombudsman would not in any way diminish my self-respect,” Morales said.
She added that she is not bothered if she will create a lot of enemies by moving to the Ombudsman like former Ombudsman Aniano Desierto and Merceditas Gutierrez who were slapped with impeachment complaints and Simeon Marcelo who resigned for health reasons.
“I feel I am insulated from threats. I have had a lot of similar experiences and thank God I am still here appearing before you,” she said.
Chief Justice Renato Corona, JBC chairman, said, “I have known her for years, I am familiar with her capabilities and qualifications.” He did not ask her any questions.
Morales, in an ambush interview with reporters after she emerged from her interview, said that while she was flattered that she is the choice of President Benigno Aquino III, she said that it was only “hearsay because it only came out in the media.”
She added that after administering the oath of Aquino, he no longer contacted her.
“He is not the type who will communicate with me, neither will I be the type to communicate with him. He never made any offer to me,” she said.
There are 27 aspirants to the post vacated by Gutierrez. The JBC has up to next week to do the interview. After the interview, the JBC will prune the list to only three candidates and their names will be submitted to Aquino, who has 90 days to make his choice.
Morales said she would first order an inventory of cases—finding out why some cases are pending for a long time and, with regards to cases filed in court, why their prosecution had been delayed.
Morales said that if appointed as Ombudsman, she would, among others, make an inventory of all pending cases and delve into the causes of their delay in their disposition. She said she would ask officials and prosecutors to attend seminars and reorientations to keep them updated on the latest in jurisprudence and the crafting of information.
Under Rule 110 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, an information “is an accusation in writing charging a person with an offense, subscribed by the prosecutor and filed with the court.”
Morales said reorientation is necessary so that the prosecutors will know how to craft strong information containing all the elements of a crime. She took note of the case of former military comptroller Carlos Garcia whose information failed to contain elements of the crime charged.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.