MANILA — A senator on Monday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to initiate the filing of an impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales if there is evidence on her alleged wrongdoings.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon gave this advice as he called for a “ceasefire” pointing out that the “word war” between the President and the Ombudsman will lead nowhere.
“The rhetoric and the word war between the President, on the one hand, and the Ombudsman and the Chief Justice, on the other, will only leave us nowhere,” Drilon said in a press statement.
Drilon explained that under the Constitution, the Congress had exclusive power to investigate and prosecute impeachable officers.
Citing Section 2, Article XI of the Constitution, Drilon said that the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.
“The power to investigate and prosecute impeachable officers such as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Ombudsman lies solely in Congress through an impeachment,” the senator stressed.
“The Congress can provide checks and balances with the executive, the judiciary and independent constitutional commissions but the constitution has likewise provided them sufficient power to be independent and isolated from pressure in order to effectively carry out their constitutional duties,” he added.
Drilon pointed out that the President cannot exercise authority and influence over an independent body such as the Ombudsman, more so over a co-equal branch of government such as the judiciary.
The senator, meanwhile, assured that the Constitution has enough safeguards to discipline and go after erring officials.
Over the weekend, Malacañang said that the Ombudsman should be open to any investigation of alleged corruption activities in the agency.
While the Palace recognizes the Ombudsman’s role in probing erring government officials, it said the anti-graft agency is not exempt from corruption allegations and should, therefore, be investigated.
“We recognize that the Office of the Ombudsman has the constitutional duty to probe erring government officials. As the protector of the people, the OMB is expected to act promptly on complaints filed against officers or employees of the government,” said Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella in a statement.
“The sad reality, however, is that the OMB is not exempt from allegations of corruption, which the President said, need to be investigated,” he added.
Duterte has expressed his plan to form a commission investigating corruption anomalies at the Office of the Ombudsman. PNA-northboundasia.com