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BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – It’s the first Supreme Court oral arguments that she attended since she retired as associate justice in 2011. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, a petitioner this time, was only supposed to watch Solicitor General Florin Hilbay argue her case. But her former colleagues called her to the podium, though briefly.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno even called her “Justice” but was quick to correct herself and called her Ombudsman.
Associate Justice Antonio Carpio was asking Solicitor General Florin Hilbay if the suspension order against Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr was based on both the preliminary investigation and the administrative case against the mayor.
When Hilbay asked for time to consult the Ombudsman, the chief justice interjected to ask Morales to share the podium instead.
It was a quick participation for Morales only to clarify that the suspension order was based only on the administrative, and not criminal cases.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 14, was in Baguio City to hold oral arguments on the petition of the Ombudsman seeking to nullify Court of Appeals resolutions that clip the powers of her office. (READ: SC’s hot topic in Baguio: Powers of Ombudsman, Binay)
The appelate court issued a TRO against the Ombudsman’s suspension order against Mayor Binay Jr, a move that Morales said was illegal. She said the CA has no power to stop her order.
In an interview before the oral arguments, Morales said she was ready to answer questions her former colleagues may raise.
“I have our counsel, the Solicitor General. But if the Supreme Court justices think they should ask questions from me, I am ready to answer any question,” she said.
“I’m happy to be in my home for almost 9 years,” she added.
Morales said she’s confident they can win the case.
“We are going to defend our position. We believe that we have edge over the party because our actions are based on law and on the facts of the case,” Morales said.
A negative ruling, she said, will open the floodgates for respondents to assail the moves of the Ombudsman.
She also dismissed allegations the suspension order was political. “The Ombudsman is an independent official. It has filed cases not on account of politics but on account of what we believe are findings of fact that call for the filing of cases in court or for administrative adjudication,” she said. – Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com