Ombudsman, by any name, to bring rule of law back
You may still call her “Madame Justice.”
Owing to court tradition, newly appointed Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales may still be addressed as “Justice,” Supreme Court spokesperson Jose Midas Marquez said on Tuesday.
“There’s a tradition… once a justice always a justice. Maybe you should ask her. I don’t think she would mind if you still called her Justice,” said Marquez at a press briefing when asked the proper way to address Carpio-Morales now that she was the Ombudsman.
President Aquino announced Carpio-Morales’ appointment in his State of the Nation Address on Monday, saying that she would be a real Ombudsman and not one who would succumb to corruption.
Carpio-Morales retired from the Supreme Court on June 19 upon turning 70, the mandatory retirement age for justices and judges.
During her interview with the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) last month, Carpio-Morales was asked if she would consider an appointment as Ombudsman a demotion.
She replied that she was not title-conscious.
“We must not see appointment to a position from the point of view of rank but for your contribution to the eradication of graft and corruption, such that the suffering of those among us, if not eradicated, is lessened,” she told the JBC.
“I’m not a title-conscious person, protocol-conscious person, and going to the Ombudsman would not in any way diminish my self-respect,” she said.
Carpio-Morales replaces Merceditas Gutierrez who resigned on April 29 after being impeached by the House of Representatives.
Gutierrez was accused of sitting on cases involving her supposed benefactor, former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and other ranking government officials.
But with Carpio-Morales as Ombudsman, officials in the past administration as well as those serving the current one can expect to be “fair game” if they do wrong.
Malacañang expects her to bring back the rule of law to the office.
“Fair game. No trace of bias toward anyone, no matter who it is. That’s the important qualification in the appointment of former justice and now Ombudsman Morales,” said Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa at a media briefing at the Philippine Information Agency on Tuesday.
“Everyone found out to have been involved in corruption, no matter when, even during this administration, nobody is exempt from the rule of law. As the President said, this is personal to him,” Ochoa told reporters.
He said Palace officials had the chance to speak with Morales before her appointment and everyone was unanimous in saying that the law, not reciprocation, would reign in the Ombudsman’s office.
“Before her appointment, we were talking and we told her that the rule of law should prevail, that rules on evidence should be the focus,” Ochoa said.
“It’s not right that just because someone claims that this person is corrupt, we will prosecute that person automatically. Fairness and the rule of law should always prevail. And we saw that in Justice Morales,” he said.
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