Ex-MRT official asks SC to remove Ombudsman for ‘overstaying’ in post

Ex-MRT official asks SC to remove Ombudsman for ‘overstaying’ in post


The petitioner, ex-MRT3 general manager Al Vitangcol III, faces charges filed by the Ombudsman over alleged anomalies in the train system

MANILA, Philippines – The former general manager of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) asked the Supreme Court (SC) to remove Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales from her post for supposedly overstaying for 5 years.

In a petition filed last October 13, former MRT3 general manager Al Vitangcol III said Morales had overstayed her post when she assumed a fresh 7-year term after serving the remainder of the term of her predecessor, Merceditas Gutierrez.

Gutierrez, who resigned in May 2011, was supposed to have served as ombudsman until November 30, 2012. Former president Benigno Aquino III appointed Morales to the post in July 2011.

According to Section 8 of Republic Act (RA) No. 6770 or the Ombudsman Act of 1989, in case of vacancy due to resignation, the Overall Deputy shall serve as Acting Ombudsman in a concurrent capacity “until a new Ombudsman shall have been appointed for a full term.”

But Vitangcol said the intent of the law was for the successor to only serve the unexpired term of the official who preceded him or her in case of a vacancy. 

He asked the SC to declare as unconstitutional Section 8 (3) of RA No. 6770.

“Legislative intent is part and parcel of the law. It is the controlling factor in interpreting a statute. In fact, any interpretation that runs counter with the legislative intent is unacceptable and invalid,” the petition reads.

“It is in this respect that the intent of the legislature in deliberating House Bill 13646, which eventually became RA 6770, finds relevance. The term of office of the appointed Ombudsman, in case of vacancy, in Section 8, paragraph(3) of RA No. 6770 can be seen in the exchange of discussions between Congressmen Tito Espinosa, Antonio Abaya, Raul Roco, and Isidro Zarraga (Committee on Justice Chairman). Interestingly, the sponsor of the bill, Congressman Abaya, intended that the new appointee shall serve only the unexpired term of his predecessor.”

Vitangcol also asked the SC to compel Morales to cease and desist from her duties as Ombudsman, and argued that all orders “rendered personally” by Morales from December 1, 2012 should be declared null and void.

Vitangcol is facing graft charges filed by the Ombudsman before anti-graft court Sandiganbayan over an alleged anomalous contract for the MRT3 interim maintenance contract during his stint as MRT3 general manager.

The Ombudsman also found that Vitangcol tried to extort $30 million from a Czech company and attempted to impose a partnership on the same firm. – Rappler.com

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