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Friday, May 20, 2016

Ombudsman Morales to public officials facing charges: Stop acting as victims

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Tuesday defended her office from allegations of political persecution and selective justice by some officials including Vice President Jejomar Binay.

"The Filipino people are the real victims whenever corrupt public officials steal money," Morales said in a statement. "Stop giving the public the impression that you are being politically persecuted. It is the other way around."

Morales issued the statement amid Binay's accusation that her office is being used by the administration as an instrument in persecuting politicians belonging to the opposition. Binay is running for president in the May elections.

Morales did not mention Binay in her statement but slammed politicians in general who are claiming "political harassment" instead of answering corruption allegations against them.

"Political harassment has become the standard public relations defense of politicians charged with graft and corruption or plunder. This will not stand in court, and the public is not gullible to believe their claim," she said.
The Ombudsman had earlier found probable cause to file graft and malversation cases against Binay over the alleged overpriced construction of the Makati City Hall Building II also referred as the Makati parking building.

The charges, however, would have to be filed against Binay only after his term as vice president ended as he enjoys immunity from suit provided by the Constitution.

However, if Binay wins as President in the upcoming elections, the filing of the charges would have to wait after the end of his six-year term.

Morales maintained that her office rules based on evidence and files charges in appropriate court regardless of political affiliations of the alleged erring officials.

"We decide only on the basis of evidence. After careful and objective evaluation of the evidence gathered, we immediately file cases, if warranted. We are oblivious of the timing of the filing of cases in courts, just as corrupt public officials steal public money every time an opportunity comes," she said.

Morales also denied the supposed politically motivated timing of the filing of cases against public officials belonging to the opposition amid the upcoming elections.

"Fighting corruption is a 24/7 job," she said. "We file plunder or graft cases as soon as we are done with a thorough and impartial investigation."

"The Office will not be deterred by propaganda and threats in doing our job. As I have said in the past, fighting corruption is the reason for my life," Morales added.

The Office of the Ombudsman earlier filed graft and falsification of public documents charges against Binay’s son, dismissed Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. also in connection with the Makati parking building anomaly.

Graft and technical malversation charges were also filed by the Ombudsman against Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, son of former President and incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, over the alleged anomalous purchase of high-powered firearms during his term as San Juan mayor.

Just recently, Morales also ordered the filing of graft charges against UNA re-electionist Cebu Rep. Gwen Garcia over the construction of the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) in 2006.

It also affirmed the graft case against former Laguna Gov. ER Ejercito for an insurance agreement the municipality of Pagsanjan entered into in 2008.

On Tuesday last week, the Ombudsman announced the indictment of former Special Action Force commander and retired police Director Getulio Napeñas in connection with the Mamasapano incident in January 2015 that left 44 policemen dead.

Morales said the filing of charges against these high-ranking former and incumbent officials who belong to the opposition is just in accordance with the mandate of the Ombudsman to prioritize high-profile cases.

"Yes, we are selective because the Ombudsman’s charter (Republic Act No. 6770) mandates us to prioritize cases against high ranking government officials, complaints involving grave offenses, as well as complaints involving large sums of money or properties or those against big-time plunderers,” Morales said.

"We are selective because we dismiss cases when evidence is not sufficient. In some cases, we are even constrained to dismiss administrative cases against elected officials because the abandonment of the condonation doctrine is prospective according to the 10 November 2015 decision of the Supreme Court," she added. —KBK, GMA News - See more at: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/562394/news/nation/ombudsman-morales-to-public-officials-facing-charges-stop-acting-as-victims#sthash.KgJAHxWG.dpuf

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