MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – As he ranted about Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales' supposed bias in handling cases, President Rodrigo Duterte claimed she is not entitled to a full 7-year-term.
This means, said Duterte, her hold on her office is very "precarious."
"May I add, your hold to the office is very, very precarious. You're supposed to serve the remaining terms of the guy who resigned, not to a full term, that is very clear under the law," he said.
The President did not specify which law he was referring to. Republic Act No 6770, the law on the organization of the Office of the Ombudsman, explains what happens when an Ombudsman resigns.
According to Section 8, in case of vacancy due to resignation, the Overall Deputy shall serve as Acting Ombudsman in a concurrent capacity "until a new Ombudsman shall have been appointed for a full term."
The Constitution, specifically Article 11 (Accountability of Public Officers), provides guarantees which insulate the Office of the Ombudsman from political influence and interference.
And Duterte's acerbic remarks towards the Ombudsman may be seen as a violation of these guarantees.
A group of lawyers, however, has asked the Supreme Court last June to declare the Office of the Ombudsman vacant saying RA 6770 goes against the 1987 Constitution.
While the RA ensures a fresh full term for the successor of an incumbent ombudsman, the Constitution states that successors to constitutionally-created bodies can serve only the unexpired term of the official who preceded them, said the group, led by lawyer Rey Nathaniel Ifurung.
Morales was appointed by former president Benigno Aquino III in 2011 to a full term of 7 years. She replaced Merceditas Gutierrez who resigned after serving for 6 years.
Morales' term will expire in July 2018.
Later in his speech, Duterte asked Morales to use her remaining time as Ombudsman to carry out her duties impartially. Earlier on, he had accused her of administering selective justice.
"Let the remaining months of your incumbency be truly reflective of your mandate to do justice to everyone without favor or bias," he said. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.