26 lawmakers urge House to 'preserve, protect' Ombudsman
MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Members of the House of Representatives, led by key members of the Liberal Party (LP), filed on Monday, October 9, a resolution calling on their colleagues to rally behind the Office of the Ombudsman amid threats from no less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
In the resolution, 26 lawmakers urged "the House of Representatives to express support to preserve and protect the constitutional independence and integrity of the Office of the Ombudsman."
The signatories, a mix of majority and independent minority members, include:
- Deputy Speaker and Marikina 2nd District Representative Miro Quimbo
- LP secretary general and Quezon City 6th District Representative Jose Christopher Belmonte
- Quezon City 3rd District Representative Jorge Banal
- Cebu City 1st District Representative Raul del Mar
- Bukidnon 1st District Representative Maria Lourdes Acosta-Alba
- Dinagat Islands Representative Kaka Bag-ao
- Pangasinan 4th District Representative Christopher de Venecia
- Caloocan 2nd District Representative Edgar Erice
- Camarines Norte 3rd District Representative Gabriel Bordado
- Capiz 1st District Representative Emmanuel Billones
- Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman
- Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin
- Northern Samar 1st District Representative Raul Daza
- Samar 1st District Representative Edgar Mary Sarmiento
- Zamboanga del Norte 3rd District Representative Isagani Amatong
- Quezon 2nd District Representative Vicente Alcala
- Batangas 6th District Representative Vilma Santos-Recto
- Occidental Mindoro Representative Josephine Ramirez-Sato
- Zambales 2nd District Representative Cheryl Deloso-Montalla
- Laguna 4th District Representative Benjamin Agarao
- Cavite 2nd District Representative Strike Revilla
- Bohol 1st District Representative Rene Relampagos
- Negros Oriental 1st District Representative Jocelyn Limkaichong
- Siquijor Representative Raul Rocamora
- Agusan del Norte 1st District Representative Lawrence Fortun
- Cavite 1st District Representative Francis Gerald Abaya
More legislators are expected to endorse the House resolution.
According to LP sources, all members of the party support the resolution. Those who did not sign it were either out of the country or sick at the time of its release.
While Malacañang said they were open to the probe, Duterte himself lashed out against the Ombudsman, saying he would have the office investigated for "partiality."
The President has also threatened to seek the impeachment of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, who is set to retire in 2018.
The Ombudsman is an independent body mandated to check on alleged wrongdoing by government officials. In particular, it focuses on allegations of corruption.
The case against Duterte was prompted by the filing of a complaint by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, among the President's fiercest critics in Congress. Trillanes does not belong to the LP but is allied with its members in the Senate minority. – Rappler.com
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said former House Speaker and Quezon City 2nd District Representative Feliciano Belmonte Jr was among the first 26 who signed the resolution.