Ombudsman not spared from gender, age prejudice
MANILA, Philippines – She was a consistent honor student, served 12 years at the Department of Justice, and 9 years as a Supreme Court Justice, but detractors still found reasons to doubt Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.
"I took on the challenge of being Ombudsman not only to make a significant dent in corruption and impunity in our country, but also to disprove a few detractors who discouraged me from accepting the position on the basis of age and gender," Morales said as she accepted on Friday, January 6, the 2017 Tandang Sora Awards given to outstanding Filipino women who exhibit the same values as the revolutionary Melchora "Tandang Sora" Aquino.
The 75-year-old Morales from Paoay, Ilocos Norte bested 3 others on the shortlist for Ombudsman – two of them men – to become the 5th Ombudsman of the Philippines tasked to investigate and prosecute corrupt officials.
She was appointed by former president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III whom she swore into office in 2010. It marked the first time that a female magistrate administered a president's oath. (READ: Leadership lessons from Conchita Carpio Morales)
A woman of her calibre, Morales said she wasn't spared from prejudices typical of a patriarchal society.
"As a woman, I was supposed to be emotional and impulsive about issues, and as a septuagenarian, I was supposed not to have the necessary energy to tackle the thousands of pending cases at the Office of the Onbudsman," Morales said.
She added: " More than five years into my term as Ombudsman, I hope, I would like to believe that I have proven those detractors wrong. Gender and age are irrelevant in this advocacy."
More than 5 years in the job, Morales is credited for the increase in conviction rates, from 33.3% before her term to the current 74.5%.
She has gone against big names in government, including former vice president Jejomar Binay and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.
In an interview with Rappler last year, Morales said the "reason for her life" is the eradication of corruption.
"For me, the primary qualifications necessary in this kind of work are unassailable integrity and a steadfast work ethic. As we celebrate the life of Tandang Sora, who was already an octogenarian when called to serve her fellow Filipinos in the revolution, we should all be reminded that heroes are ordinary people who do extraordinary things," Morales said. – Rappler.com
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