MANILA - Various groups on Friday held a solidarity Mass in support of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and her office in the wake of President Rodrigo Duterte's recent statements against them amid an investigation into his and his family's wealth.
The Mass was co-celebrated by four priests led by running priest Fr. Robert Reyes, and attended by members of Tindig Pilipinas, The Silent No More Organization, the Magdalo group, and Prayer Battalion for Truth and Justice, among others.
Among the prominent personalities present were former Aquino administration Cabinet members Dinky Soliman and Bro. Armin Luistro, and former Commission on Human Rights Chair Etta Rosales.
Administration critic and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano also attended.
Soliman questioned the newly created Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, which Duterte ordered formed after the Ombudsman announced its investigation into his wealth.
“Bakit mo itinatayo ngayon, dahil ba iniimbestigahan ka? Meron nga ho ba kayong bilyon o milyon?” asked Soliman, a former Social Welfare secretary.
The President has denied having more than P40 million in his bank account.
Luistro, meanwhile, said the Ombudsman should not be intimidated by the President.
Morales earlier said she and her office would not cower over the President's statements.
“Kung tinatakot mo ang Ombudsman, hindi naman sa pananakot nadadaan 'yan,” said Luistro, former head of the education department.
Alejano, whose impeachment complaint against the President was junked, said the anti-corruption commission is a redundant government agency.
“Napaka-importante ang timing na kung saan ang Presidente ay under investigation. Kung gusto niya tutulan ang corruption, dapat first day in office niya ginawa ito. Ito ay maliwanag na threat and intimidation sa ginagawa ng Ombudsman,” Alejano said.
Morales did not join the Mass to avoid unnecessary criticism, Luistro said.
Her office instead issued a statement of gratitude, which was read after the Mass by Office of the Ombudsman Community Coordination Bureau Director Rhodora Galicia.
“The Office of the Ombudsman is grateful for your expression of solidarity in support of the institution and its steadfast commitment to uphold the rule of law and perform its Constitutional mandate. We join you in praying for our country,” she said.