MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales snapped back at defense lawyer Edna Batacan who told the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) that the Office of the Ombudsman has become a “graft-ridden” office, and that she had been a “victim” of corruption there.
“You say [the Office of the Ombudsman] is corrupt, come up with evidence,” Morales said in a Rappler Talk interview, addressing the allegations of Batacan.
“If you are party to corruption, you are corrupt yourself,” she added.
Batacan is applying for the post of Ombudsman to replace Morales who is retiring on July 26. Batacan is the former lawyer of President Rodrigo Duterte, and is the one being floated by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque as the potential front runner for the position. (READ: The search for the next Ombudsman)
Batacan told the JBC during the public interviews that there is a “parking fee” to bribe Ombudsman investigators to sit on cases. Batacan also said she had been involved in a P50,000-payoff because “you have to please your client.”
“One applicant for this position said there’s a lot of corruption. Excuse me. When I asked a director if it’s true that there’s a lot of corruption, [the official said] yes, maybe, that’s true – but during that applicant’s time. This I have to say because that is the reaction of this high official whom I inquired about,” Morales said, referring to Batacan.
Batacan used to be an Ombudsman prosecutor before she switched to private practice to represent public officials and personalities in their corruption cases. Batacan represented former first gentleman Mike Arroyo and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Morales said she was miffed with Batacan’s repeated statements during the JBC interview about alleged irregularities in the office, such as the difficulty of lawyers to get status of their clients’ cases.
“You know, it’s parang sampal sa mukha na sasabihin nila na (it’s like a slap in the face if they say that) there’s a lot of corruption. Come on, come up with evidence,” Morales said.
Morales added: “Excuse me, why don’t we look at each other’s records? Come on.”
The JBC is screening a pool of 10 applicants before they make a shortlist to send to Duterte. The applicants include Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval, Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Martires and Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz. – Rappler.com