MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - Former President and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has asked the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to block the application of Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales as Ombudsman.
In her letter, Arroyo said she will be the principal target of complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman considering the campaign promises of President Aquino to hold accountable officials of the previous administration. She noted Aquino's efforts to create a Truth Commission under Executive Order 1 and moves to replace Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
The former president said she doubts Carpio Morales would be fair. “If appointed Ombudsman, I sincerely believe that Justice Conchita Carpio Morales would not have the required independence and impartiality in resolving cases involving me and my family," she said in her letter to the JBC.
She said that while Carpio Morales was a member of the High Court, she consistently voted in favor of major cases involving allegations of wrongdoing against the Arroyo administration.
Arroyo said that while the lady justice’s view did not prevail because the High Court is a collegiate body, the Ombudsman would be acting alone in the performance of investigating corruption cases against government officials.
"I trust that the Judicial and Bar Council will have no difficulty identifying applicants who possess the required probity and independence to act on cases brought before the Ombudsman, including against myself, my immediate family and others who served in my administration," she concluded.
The letter to the JBC is dated June 6, 2011.
'Anyone but Carpio Morales'
Arroyo’s spokesman, Elena Bautista Horn, said the former leader need not show up before the JBC to state her objection, and to allow Carpio Morales to confront her.
She said Carpio Morales will be given the chance to respond.
Horn clarified that it is concern, not fear, of Carpio-Morales that motivated the letter. She said the Ombudsman has to be an independent thinker, something which Arroyo does not think Carpio Morales will be.
Horn said the Ombudsman must make decisions based on evidence. She indicated that Arroyo will support any candidate for Ombudsman except Carpio Morales.
“There are 27 nominees within the JBC for them to pick the next Ombudsman. Siguro may mahahanap sila na independent thinker na makaka-discharge sa trabaho ng Ombudsman," she said.
Tupas backs Carpio Morales
Meanwhile, a member of the JBC and ally of President Aquino said Carpio Morales has demonstrated "independence and impartiality in resolving cases as member of the Supreme Court."
"Her integrity is unquestionable. Hence, no basis in the opposing her nomination. Justice Carpio Morales should be allowed to go through the process of selection and nomination by the JBC," said Rep. Niel Tupas Jr.
Aquino, a consistent Arroyo critic since he was a lawmaker, campaigned to hold Arroyo accountable for various corruption scandals during her administration. Arroyo’s family and allies have previously cried political persecution over the slew of cases that have been filed against them.
Critics said former Ombudsman Gutierrez was supposedly Arroyo's first line of defense against prosecution.
Carpio Morales is said to be Aquino’s top pick for the Ombudsman post. She is among the 27 applicants undergoing scrutiny by the JBC.
She is set to retire from the High Court in a few weeks.