VACC submits Morales impeach complaint, but without an endorsement

MANILA, Philippines – The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption submitted to the House Secretary General on Wednesday, December 13, an impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales absent an endorsement from lawmakers. 

VACC counsel Jing Paras said that due to the joint session earlier and hearings left and right at the lower chamber, their endorsers could not sign the complaint yet. He advised reporters to wait until the office closes Wednesday, which may be past 7 pm since a session was still ongoing as of posting time.

Why not wait until it was signed by an endorsing lawmaker? Paras said it is difficult to assemble all complainants, seeing that some of them are families of the slain SAF 44 who come from far provinces.

Anyway, Paras said, the endorsement could follow "until this Congress is stil existing."

According to House Secretary General Cesar Pareja, an unendorsed complaint "is simply considered as an ordinary communication which we will just file. To be a valid complaint, the same must be verified and upon a resolution of endorsement by any member of the House."

They can re-file an endorsed complaint anytime.

"We have already devoted so much effort on this. Hindi naman kami mga stupid people na we just come in and risk our reputation na walang magpirma (we're not stupid to just come in and risk our reputation if nobody signs)," Paras said.

It was something that the VACC had wanted to file since May this year, but was put off repeatedly with VACC lawyers saying that prospective endorsers were still “studying the complaint.”

Grounds

In their 94-page complaint, Morales is being accused of 6 grounds for impeachment. Apart from the VACC, other complainants include families of some of the slain Special Action Force (SAF) 44 and former MRT general manager Al Vitangcol, who's facing charges before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.

Their first ground is betrayal of public trust for the alleged disclosure by Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang of President Rodrigo Duterte's bank records that supposedly show a cash flow of about P1 billion. Morales has inhibited from this investigation.

The VACC alleges that the disclosure is a volation of the anti-money laundering law and the Office of the Ombudsman's own rules.

The 2nd ground is related to the investigation into Duterte's wealth, but this time, the VACC said Morales committed graft for "conspiring with Carandang" to illegally disclose details. Section 3(k) of the graft law prohibitis disclosure of valuable information.

The 3rd ground is betrayal of public trust for the dismissal of the case against Jose Ma. Clemente Salceda, whose lawyer is Lucas Carpio, Morales' brother and the father of presidential son-in-law Manases Carpio. VACC's Manny Luna claims this is a "game changer" which should prompt Morales to resign.

The 4th ground is betrayal of public trust when Morales supposedly “grossly neglected her duty to act promptly on complaints.” The VACC cited the Ombudsman cases dismissed by the Sandiganbayan on the basis of inordinate delay.

It was a problem that hounded the Office of the Ombudsman all year long, driving them to appeal to the Supreme Court to reassess the definition of "inordinate delay".

'Biased'

The 5th and 6th grounds are betrayal of public trust for being biased for former president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, both in the Mamasapano case and the Disbursement Acceleration Program or the DAP case.

Morales has already cleared Aquino in the DAP case, but the case is still on appeal, following a motion for reconsideration by complainant Bayan Muna.

The VACC first announced its plan to file an impeachment complaint against Morales in May.

"Until I get hold of a copy of the complaint, I have nothing to say," Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said in a statement. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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