Conchita Carpio-Morales courage and justice 2016 Ramon Magsaysay awardee
(The Philippine Star) - August 21, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - At 75, there’s no stopping Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales from ridding the country of corrupt officials.

Under her watch, the conviction rate of cases handled by the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) before the Sandiganbayan rose from 33 percent in 2011 to 74.5 percent in 2015.

Her relentless campaign against corruption earned her this year the Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation recognized Morales for “her moral courage and commitment to justice in taking head-on one of the most intractable problems of the Philippines; promoting by her example of incorruptibility, diligence, vision and leadership the highest ethical standards in public service.”

“The most difficult case to decide is the most fulfilling achievement. However you decide it, you come to a certain point that you think will spell the difference,” the RMAF quoted Morales as saying.

In its citation, the foundation said Morales has prioritized the filing of cases against high-ranking officials. 

The OMB recently filed corruption charges before the Sandiganbayan against former vice president Jejomar Binay over the alleged overpriced Makati Parking Building. 

Morales is the first ombudsman to use the waiver in the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth – which is required of government officials and employees – as basis to secure bank records in impeaching one of the country’s highest officials, the RMAF said. 

The foundation was apparently referring to the impeachment of the late chief justice Renato Corona in May 2012.

In choosing her as Magsaysay awardee, Morales said the foundation is also honoring the men and women of the OMB “who have faithfully toiled and persevered with me in our shared commitment to excise the cancer of corruption that has afflicted our country for decades.”

She said the award “added inspiration and encouragement to carry on and remain focused, undaunted by those who persist in not only plundering public funds but, more seriously, destroying our moral fabric as a people.” 

Born on June 19, 1941, Morales – a native of Paoay, Ilocos Norte – dreamed of becoming a lawyer.

She finished her Bachelor of Arts in Economics degree from the University of the Philippines-Diliman in 1964 and Bachelor of Laws degree from the same institution in 1968.

She passed the Bar in 1969. Her career in the judiciary began with her appointment by the late president Ferdinand Marcos as regional trial court judge in Pili, Camarines Sur in 1983.

Morales is married to Eugenio Morales, Jr., a retired regional director of the Land Transportation and Regulatory Franchising Board. 

They have two sons Eugenio K.C. III, who works as an examiner at the Land Registration Authority, and Umberto, who passed away in October last year.

in 2011, Morales was appointed ombudsman by former president Benigno Aquino III, after she retired from the Supreme Court where she served as Associate Justice from 2002 to 2011. Her appointment as ombudsman was announced by then president Aquino during his State of the Nation Address on July 25, 2011. She assumed office two days later.  

Believing that corruption is not just a matter of persons but systems, she has implemented and supported programs such as the Integrity Management Program, the government’s flagship corruption prevention program, which was aimed at bringing about systemic change in government.  

Morales is confident her office can resolve all the pending complaints lodged against public officials before the end of her term in 2018.

Antique collector

 In a previous interview, Morales admitted to being an antique lover. 

She started collecting antiques in 1971 when she was still working with the Department of Justice. 

Among her prized possessions is an antique chest she inherited from her mother. 

During her free time, Morales paints and plays the piano. Franz Liszt is her favorite composer. 

On Aug. 31, Morales along with five other awardees – Dompet Dhuafa of Indonesia, Bezwada Wilson from India, Vientiane Rescue from Laos, the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers and Thodur Madabusi Krishna of India (for Emerging Leadership) – will be formally conferred the Magsaysay Award during formal presentation ceremonies at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The six awardees will join the community of 312 other Magsaysay laureates who have received Asia’s highest honor.

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