|Retired Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales at SONA
MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III announced in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday the appointment of retired Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales as the new Ombudsman.
Carpio-Morales, the perceived front-runner in the race because she administered the president's oath on June 30, 2010, bested 3 other top contenders to the post contained in a shortlist submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to Malacañan, namely:
- former Justice Secretary Artemio Tuquero,
- Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) Commissioner Gerard Mosquera, and,
- Justice Undersecretary Leah Armamento.
Carpio-Morales, born on June 19, 1941, a native of Paoay, Ilocos Norte, graduated valedictorian in elementary and high school at the Paoay Elementary School and Paoay North Institute, respectively.
She moved on to earn a degree in Economics from the University of the Philippines (UP) in 1964, and finished her Bachelor of Laws from the same university in 1968.
After the passing the Bar Examinations in 1969, she worked as an assistant attorney at a private law firm, Atienza Tabora and Del Rosario law offices.
She thereafter worked as special assistant to Justice Secretary Vicente Abad Santos, and was later appointed as a State Counsel in 1976 and Senior State Counsel in 1981.
After almost 12 years with the Department of Justice (DOJ), she joined the judiciary in 1983.
She served as a trial judge in Camarines Sur and Pasay City. In 1994, she was appointed by President Fidel Ramos to the Court of Appeals (CA).
On September 3, 2002, then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appointed her as the 151st magistrate of the high tribunal.
In 2000, she was the Bar examiner in Legal Ethics. She also served as chairperson of Gender Responsiveness in the judiciary, and was a member of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).
Carpio-Morales hung her "purple" robes on her 70th birthday.
During her public interview with the JBC last June 23, she identified the following priority projects should she be chosen by President Aquino for the Ombudsman post:
- conduct an inventory of all pending cases at the anti-graft office;
- ask for statements of these cases including the incidents attending the proceedings;
- conduct seminars to brief public prosecutors of the latest in jurisprudence;
- subject public prosecutors and Office of the Ombudsman personnel to periodic reorientation; and,
- carefully study the job description of all officers and personnel of the anti-graft office "so that faults, if any, are traced."
Her nomination to the post received flak from sectors who viewed the 70-year old magistrate's appointment as Ombudsman as a demotion from being Supreme Court magistrate.
Carpio-Morales has responded to this by saying: "We must not see appointment of position on the point of view of ranking but on your contribution to the eradication of graft and corruption, such that the suffering of those among us, if not eradicated, is lessened."
"I'm not a title-conscious person (nor a) protocol-conscious person, and going to the Ombudsman would not, in any way, diminish my self-respect," she said.
Asked to state one strong reason why she should be nominated for the post, Carpio-Morales said: "I feel I have the moral fiber to prosecute those who ought to be prosecuted and to ward off any extra-legal factors which impede the prosecution (of cases)."
Carpio-Morales will serve a full 7-year term. She succeeds Merceditas Gutierrez who resigned in April ahead of a full-blown impeachment trial against her at the Senate.
Carpio-Morales is married to Eugenio Morales, Jr. with whom she has two sons: Eugenio III and Umberto.