Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Thurday said she was staying away from the criminal cases filed against presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, because of family ties.
Morales’ inhibition is grounded on the fact that Manases Carpio, the son of her brother-Davao City Regional Trial Court Lucas Carpio, is the husband of Duterte’s daughter, she added.
Sara and Manases are both lawyers.
The mother of Sara’s husband is Court of Appeals Justice Agenes Reyes-Carpio.
Even before the May 9 national and local elections, Morales said she has already inhibited from investigating the plunder, technical malversation and graft charges filed by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV against Duterte.
“I have been inhibiting in cases involving the Dutertes, involving Sara, involving presumptive President-elect Duterte even before he became president-elect,” she stressed.
On May 5, Trillanes filed the complaint, accusing the older Duterte of hiring 11,000 ghost employees in 2014, using the city’s money of P708 million.
Morales said she stayed away from the ongoing investigation into the complaint of direct assault filed by the Sheriffs Confederation of the Philippines against Sara, who mauled sheriff Abe Andres in the middle of his implementation of a court’s demolition order in a slum area in Davao City in 2011.
The group filed a separate case for grave abuse and misconduct against Duterte and son Paolo, who were then the city’s vice mayor and councilor, respectively, for their rude hand gestures in public to defend Sara’s attack on Andres.
Despite her inhibition, Morales said the Dutertes are not yet of the hook.
The Ombudsman will still pursue the investigation on cases against the presumptive President filed by Trillanes, she added.
“I think relationship is not a factor in the disposition of cases or in the investigation of cases. He knows that I am impervious to any influence,” she pointed out.
She said the Ombudsman as an institution will uphold its mandate to investigate any public official accused of administrative or criminal offense whether he or she has the immunity from suit or not.
“If the complaint is meritorious, the Ombudsman will continue to investigate an impeachable officer for the purpose of determining whether gross or grave misconduct has been committed,” she noted.
“If the investigation turns affirmative, then we will forward our resolution to Congress for possible impeachment.”
Despite Duterte’s victory, Morales said she is not going to Davao City to join well-wishers in congratulating the presumptive president.
“If time permits, I will certainly greet him,” she said.
“You know that there are other people who will just take the opportunity to give color, seize even the slightest incident.”
Morales backed Duterte’s stance that he is giving the Ombudsman the responsibility to prosecute corrupt officials.
Duterte said he is not a vindictive president, and that he does not have any plan to go after President Benigno Aquino III and Vice President Jejomar Binay over corruption allegations against them.
“He is right. He is not a prosecutor,” Morales said.
Plunder and graft charges were filed against Aquino on the alleged misuse of the Disbursement Acceleration Program and mishandling of the botched Mamasapano clash that took the lives of 44 members of the Philippine National Police’s elite Special Action Force in January 2015.
Binay is also facing plunder and graft complaints before the Ombudsman over the alleged overpricing of the Makati City parking building.