MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has expressed elation over the appointment and formal oath-taking on Wednesday of new Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
De Lima, a member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) which screens candidates to the Ombudsman post and submits a shortlist of the most qualified applicants/nominees to Malacanan, only voted for the retired Supreme Court(SC) magistrate.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News before attending Carpio-Morales' oath-taking at the Palace, the justice chief said Carpio-Morales is the "best choice" for the post.
"Of course, I'm very elated that [she] was finally the chosen one. As you know, I was really all out for her. I do believe that she [is] the best choice both morally and cerebrally, or intellectually," de Lima said.
De Lima also hailed Carpio-Morales' track record in the judiciary, and her "high sense of independence" in spite of the objection posed by former president now Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Arroyo earlier told the JBC that Carpio Morales "would not have the required independence and impartiality" in resolving cases involving her and her family once appointed to the post.
"Her track record, her personality, the high sense of independence, her decisions before when she was still with the Supreme Court -- both as ponente and dissenter -- really speak for themselves. Very, very high sense of independence," de Lima said.
The applause that greeted President Aquino's announcement of Carpio-Morales' appointment as Ombudsman in his 2nd State of the Nation Address (SONA) was also indicative of the public's support for the new chief graft-buster, de Lima said.
"As you [saw] from the very thunderous applause that greeted the announcement of PNoy during the SONA, it says it all na well-received, people again are optimistic" she said.
The appointment of a fair, highly qualified Ombudsman cushioned the impact of the Supreme Court's junking with finality of Executive Order No. 1 which created the Philippine Truth Commission (PTC), de Lima said.
The PTC was supposed to investigate allegations of graft and corruption and other anomalies committed during the Arroyo administration.
"Itong pagbasura sa EO 1 ay mukhang hindi na naman ganoon [ka-tindi] ang epekto because we have a new Ombudsman. So now that we have a new Ombudsman, alam natin na gagawin ang tama... na will fulfill conscientiously yung mandate ng kanyang opisina. We can be assured na mayroong direksyon and outcome ang mga kasong fina-file," de Lima said.
Carpio-Morales' predecessor, Merceditas Gutierrez, received flak for allegedly protecting the Arroyos and sitting on cases filed against the Arroyos and their allies.
Gutierrez resigned last April ahead of a full-blown impeachment trial on charges of betrayal of public trust.