SC junks pleas to remove ombudsman
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - April 25, 2018 - 12:00am

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines  — The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed petitions seeking to remove Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales from her post for allegedly overstaying.

In their last summer session before going on a decision-writing recess next month, the justices voted unanimously to dismiss the petitions filed last year by former Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) general manager Al Vitangcol and lawyer Rey Nathaniel Ifurung for lack of merit.

The high court found no basis in the prayer of petitioners to compel Morales to immediately cease and desist from further discharging her functions as ombudsman and to declare that her term of office had expired on Nov. 30, 2012.

“As provided in Article XI, Sec. 11 of the Constitution, Secs. 7 and 8(3) of Republic Act No. 6770, the Ombudsman is appointed to a full term of seven years without reappointment and not simply the unexpired portion of the predecessor,” the SC explained.

Morales replaced Merceditas Gutierrez, who resigned on May 6, 2011 to avoid an impeachment trial at the Senate, leaving an unexpired term until Nov. 30, 2012.

Petitioners said the intent of the law was for the successor of Gutierrez to serve the remainder of her term only, not for a fresh term of seven years.

They urged the SC to declare Section 8 (3) of Republic Act 6770 or the Ombudsman Act of 1989, as unconstitutional for contravening the legislative intent that in case of vacancy, the new appointee should only serve the unexpired term of his or her predecessor.

The provision assures a fresh seven-year term for the successor of the incumbent ombudsman and his deputies.

Morales, a retired SC associate justice, was appointed by former president Benigno Aquino III as ombudsman in 2011. She is set to end her stint at the anti-graft body on July 26, 2018.

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