- Ombudsman Morales said Duterte cannot initiate the filing of charges against Aquino or Binay
- She maintained that the job should be left to the Office of the Ombudsman to prosecute erring public officials
- She also disclosed she will inhibit from the plunder case filed by Senator Trillanes against presumptive President Duterte
MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales says President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to not file charges against outgoing President Benigno ‘PNoy’ Aquino III and Vice President Jejomar once the two step down from Malacañang is understandable from a legal point of view.
Morales pointed out that Duterte, after he assumes the presidency next month, cannot prosecute Aquino or Binay, or any erring public official for that matter, because that is the job of the Ombudsman in the first place, and not of the executive department.
“He’s not a prosecutor. So he’s right,” Morales said during the launching of the Ombudsman Young Leaders Integrity Development Program on Thursday, May 19.
Duterte, who calls for the ‘healing process’ after the heated May 9 election, earlier said the public should not expect him to be vindictive against the two outgoing leaders and running after them is not the priority of his administration.
“Maybe when I sit as President, I am not going to prosecute. I am not up to it actually, going after political enemies,” the presumptive president was quoted as saying in an interview.
He also stressed that it should be the job of the Office of the Ombudsman which is currently headed by Morales; an Aquino appointee.
Morales, for her part, echoed Duterte; saying the incoming president cannot initiate the filing of cases against Aquino and Binay, even if he wants to.
“To begin with, he’s not a prosecutor. It’s the Office of the Ombudsman which would initiate charges,” she said.
As for the plunder case filed by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV that Duterte himself is facing, Morales clarified the Ombudsman will continue with the investigation. However, she said she will inhibit from the case owing to her affinity with Duterte’s son-in-law, the husband of Sara Duterte.
Morales is Sara’s aunt-in-law. The latter’s husband is a Morales’ nephew, and the couple are both lawyers.
“I have inhibited in cases involving the Dutertes. Involving Sarah, involving presumptive president elect Duterte, Even before he became a presumptive president-elect, I have already been inhibiting in cases involving them,” she noted.
She also reiterated she will not go out of her way to personally congratulate the incoming president like the many public officials who trooped to Davao City to meet Duterte, as such gesture could be misjudged by others, especially that she wants to maintain the anti-graft body’s independence.