Presidential son-in-law: Who is Manases Carpio?

Jodesz Gavilan

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Presidential son-in-law: Who is Manases Carpio?
Manases Carpio, President Duterte's son-in-law, is involved in private legal practice as part of the Carpio & Duterte Lawyers firm

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential son-in-law Manases “Mans” Carpio is set to face the Senate on Thursday, September 7, to answer allegations of his supposed involvement in the so-called Davao Group’s smuggling activities.  

In a joint statement on Monday, September 5, Carpio, together with Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, his brother-in-law and eldest son of the President, committed to attend the Senate hearing on alleged corruption inside the Bureau of Customs. 

They were also implicated after Customs fixer Mark Taguba read text messages mentioning their names as part of the Davao Group. (READ: Here’s what else was in Taguba’s text messages on Customs)

Taguba, on Friday, September 1, however said that the involvement of the two in the issue was mere “hearsay” as he never met them. (READ: Taguba changes tune: Paolo, Mans not part of BOC corruption)

All in the family 

A lawyer by profession, Carpio was admitted to the bar in 2004, according to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. 

He obtained his undergraduate degree in Political Science from De La Salle University and earned his law degree from the San Sebastian College of Law in 2002, the school’s alumni office confirmed.

In 2007, he married Sara Duterte at the Santuario de San Antonio Parish in Makati. They have 3 children.

His marriage to Sara, a lawyer herself, merged two families involved in law and the judiciary.

Carpio is the son of former Court of Appeals (CA) justice Agnes Carpio who retired in December 2016. Prior to working at the CA, she had been assigned to Regional Trial Courts (RTCs) in Manila, Parañaque, Pasig, and Davao City.

Meanwhile, Carpio’s father, Lucas Carpio Jr, is also a lawyer. He is the brother of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and cousin of Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

The Ombudsman, however, has constantly insisted on her independence, especially when handling cases related to the President – her nephew’s father-in-law. 

“Relationship is not a factor in the disposition of cases or in the investigation of cases,” Morales once said.

In fact, Morales already inhibited herself from the investigations into the alleged killings carried out by members of the supposed Davao Death Squad (DDS) based on the complaint filed by self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato. (READ: Ombudsman pursues Matobato’s Davao Death Squad complaint) 

The Ombudsman also said that she is “neither privy nor updated on the activities of my relatives in Davao.”

PRESIDENTIAL IN-LAW. Lawyer Manases Carpio (right) with wife, Sara, and President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. File photo from the Facebook page of Manases Carpio

Lawyering career

While Sara has been working in the local government of Davao City since she was first elected into office in 2007, Carpio has been involved in private legal practice. 

In 2008, Carpio established Carpio & Duterte Lawyers together with his wife and a certain Elijah Pepito. 

According to its website, the firm specializes in business, commercial, and labor litigation, and civil and criminal prosecution. 

The firm’s roster of clients includes tobacco maker Mighty Corporation, according to the elder Duterte.  

Meanwhile, the Iloilo Metropolitan Times reported that Mans Carpio joined officials of Eagle-Crest Gaming and Holding Corporation in a meeting with Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr to discuss small town lottery (STL) operations in January 2017.

The nature of the legal profession, the President explained, is why he sees nothing wrong with his son-in-law’s visits to government offices – including the Bureau of Customs. (READ: Duterte defends son-in-law, distances self from Paolo’s ex-wife)

“I do not apologize for him because he’s a lawyer and every lawyer knows that, that’s our job,” the President explained on August 29. “If he’s just going to the [BOC] in connection with the case of [his] client… that was my work before.”

“We have to protect the interest of our client, that’s our oath of office as lawyers,” he added.

Carpio also confirmed that he had visited the BOC several times in the past but insisted that the visits were part of his job to represent his clients. 

“I represent many clients who have transactions with the Bureau of Customs. It is my job as a lawyer to appear before government agencies for and on behalf of my principals,” he said.

The statement comes after Senator Antonio Trillanes IV alleged the presidential son-in-law was involved in smuggling. This was when former Customs intelligence head Neil Estrella said he saw Carpio visit former chief Nicanor Faeldon in his office.

Faeldon confirmed that he met Carpio but only once – contrary to the 5 times that Trillanes alleged.  

On Thursday, the exchange of allegations between the two camps could end as Carpio and his brother-in-law Paolo finally face the Senate after their names have been floated for months. –

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and impunity beats, producing in-depth and investigative reports particularly on the quest for justice of victims of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and war on dissent.