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Morales: I have nothing to hide, nothing to fear

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales is defiant in the face of President Duterte’s tirades against her, stressing yesterday that “I can stand my ground” because “I have nothing to hide” and that an impeachment case against her would even be welcome. File

MANILA, Philippines — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales is defiant in the face of President Duterte’s tirades against her, stressing yesterday that “I can stand my ground” because “I have nothing to hide” and that an impeachment case against her would even be welcome.

“It has been booted about since last year, so never mind,” Morales said in a television interview. “I’m being scared? No, never, I have nothing to hide.”

In a speech on Wednesday, Duterte threatened to file an impeachment case against Morales over the alleged illegally obtained documents concerning his and his family’s bank transactions.

Duterte said the supposed bank documents were fabricated and he believed Morales “was part of the conspiracy” to oust him from office.

Morales said she could not be intimidated. She recalled an instance in 2012 when a hand grenade was left outside her home.

At the time, Morales, who testified against the late chief justice Renato Corona in his impeachment trial, exchanged contradicting statements over allegations made by Corona that she was used as a tool by the past administration in its bid to oust him.

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Corona was convicted after he was found guilty of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution for not being truthful about his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) as required under the Constitution.

“I’m a fatalist, if it comes, it comes,” Morales said.

Last week, Duterte said he will also have the ombudsman investigated over the alleged corrupt practices in the agency such as “fixing” of cases by state prosecutors in exchange for bribe money.

Duterte signed on Oct. 4 an executive order creating the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, which might usurp the investigative power of the ombudsman on public officials. 

Solidarity mass

Also yesterday, various opposition groups held a “solidarity mass” outside the ombudsman’s office in Quezon City to show their support for Morales.

The mass, co-celebrated by running priest Robert Reyes, was attended by critics of the Duterte administration and former social welfare secretary Corazon Soliman, former education secretary Armin Luistro, former Commission on Human Rights chairperson Etta Rosales and Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano.

The mass was also attended by members of various organizations including Tindig Pilipinas, SilentNoMore PH, Magdalo, Prayer Battalion for Truth and Justice, among others. 

Soliman questioned Duterte’s creation of an anti-corruption commission amid the ombudsman’s recent pronouncement that it had started a fact-finding investigation on Duterte and his family’s alleged hidden wealth.

“Why are you creating that now, because you are under investigation? Do you really have a billion or a million?” Soliman asked in Filipino.

For his part, Alejano said the creation of the commission is clearly a “threat and initimidation” by Duterte against the ombudsman.

“Timing is very important because the President is under investigation; if he wants to stop corruption, he should have done that on his first day in office,” Alejano said.

Meanwhile, Luistro said Morales opted not to attend the mass to avoid unnecessary criticisms. 

The ombudsman, however, issued a statement which was read after the mass by Office of the Ombudsman Community Coordination Bureau director Rhodora Galicia.

“The Office of the Ombudsman is grateful for your expression of solidarity in support of the institution and its steadfast commitment to uphold the rule of law and perform its constitutional mandate. We join you in praying for our country,” the ombudsman’s statement read.

Duterte’s recent tirades against Morales and her office stemmed from the pronouncement of overall deputy ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang last week that the anti-graft body has already launched a fact-finding investigation on a complaint filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV during the campaign period for the May 2016 elections concerning Duterte and his family’s alleged unexplained wealth supposedly hidden in several bank accounts.

The President has also lashed out at the ombudsman for criticizing his war on drugs that resulted in the killings of drug suspects. 

Carandang said the ombudsman has obtained several bank documents from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) which show that Duterte and his family have over P1 billion worth of transactions in several banks from 2006 to 2016.

But in a statement issued also last week, the AMLC denied providing any bank records to the ombudsman. The AMLC further said it has yet to evaluate if there is ground to initiate an investigation on Duterte’s bank transactions.

Following the AMLC’s statement, Duterte accused the ombudsman of illegally obtaining his and his family’s bank records as it did not have any permission from either council or court.

Administrative charges of grave misconduct, gross dishonesty and gross negligence constituting betrayal of public trust were filed on Tuesday by former congressmen Jacinto Paras and Glenn Chong before the Office of the President against Carandang and several other ombudsman officials in connection with the release of the questionable bank documents.

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