MANILA, Philippines – As far as Malacañang is concerned, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales had taken President Rodrigo Duterte's threats to kill drug suspects "out of context" during a recent interview.
"I think she is really taking it out of context," Abella said in a Palace news briefing on Friday, July 14.
Morales, in an interview with Japanese television network NHK on Thursday, said Duterte's threats to kill criminals are "unacceptable."
"He's goading people to kill people. That's a problem.The directive to kill people under any situation irrespective to the context, to me that's unacceptable," the Ombudsman said.
Abella responded by saying Duterte's words have to be understood in the context of how he expresses himself. On previous occasions when the President was criticized for his language, Abella defended him by citing the Chief Executive's fondness for "hyperbole."
"Again and again we’ve stated how the President expresses himself and that particular statement may have been taken out of context," said Duterte's spokesman.
Morales, said Abella, was merely expressing her views on Duterte during the interview.
"That's her opinion," he said.
Duterte has, on numerous occasions and in the presence of police and military, proclaimed that he wishes to kill drug suspects and other criminals, sparking criticism that this only bolstered the culture of impunity among security forces. (READ: Shoot to kill? Duterte's statements on killing drug users)
He has also told them, supposedly in jest, to make drug suspects fight during government operations in order to have an excuse to shoot them dead.
While he sometimes adds to these statements by telling security forces to follow protocol, he has also promised to pardon if they are convicted of crimes in the perfomance of their duty. He reiterated this when he ordered the reinstatement of the police officer who led a team implicated in the death of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr and another inmate in a Leyte jail cell last year.
She is also handling the plunder complaint filed by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV alleging Duterte of P2.4 billion in ill-gotten funds in his bank accounts.
Murder complaints have also been filed before the Ombudsman against police accused of killing drug suspects while conducting the Duterte-sanctioned Oplan TokHang.
Morales also happens to have ties with the Duterte family by marriage.
The Ombudsman's brother, lawyer Lucas Carpio Jr, is married to Court of Appeals Associate Justice Agnes Reyes Carpio. The Carpios are the parents-in-law of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of the President. – 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 email@example.com.