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Palace: Duterte believes Sereno, Morales being used vs him

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said  it is President Rodrigo Duterte’s prerogative to make a call for Chief Justice Maria Loudes Sereno and Conchita Carpio Morales to resign. File photos

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday justified the president's challenge for Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to resign with him saying they are part of a plot to oust him from power.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said it is President Rodrigo Duterte’s prerogative to make a call for Sereno and Morales to resign. Although the chief justice and ombudsman are presidential appointees, they do not serve at the pleasure of the chief executive as Cabinet officials do.

Sereno faces an impeachment complaint at the House of Representatives while Morales faces the threat of one being filed against her.

Abella has made a similar claim in the past, saying incorrectly of Commission on Human Rights officials that "technically, they may be replaced at his pleasure."

The presidential spokesman said: “The president believes that the Supreme Court chief justice and the Ombudsman have allowed themselves to be used by certain political forces to discredit him and his administration in order to spark public outrage and eventually oust him from the presidency.”

“In other words, he finds them suspect and it's his prerogative to ask them to resign,” he added.

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On Saturday, Duterte dared Sereno and Morales to resign with him and accused the two officials of corruption. The president was earlier alleged of having ill-gotten wealth, a charge he has denied and has explained by saying inherited money from his father, a former governor of the now defunct Davao province.

READ: Rody dares Sereno, Morales: Let’s resign

Abella said he is sure that the president has evidence to back his claims because he is a lawyer.

Asked why Duterte is also mulling resignation with the two officials if he is not guilty, Abella said announcing resignation is only the president’s “manner of approaching the situation.”

Abella explained that Duterte said he will not submit to the ombudsman’s probe because he finds them suspect.

“That's where he's coming from,” Abella said, claiming that Duterte respects the independence of the Office of the Ombudsman as an institution but not the practices of certain people which he deemed “suspect.”

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, who has inhibited from cases involving the president because they are related by marriage, has said the office is merely performing its constitutional mandate by looking into allegations of undeclared wealth. 


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