Alvarez cold to personally endorsing impeach rap vs Ombudsman

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2018 05:15 PM

MANILA - House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday said he is cold to personally endorsing the impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.

Asked by reporters about the call of Labor Undersecretary Jacinto Paras for lawmakers to endorse the complaint he filed last year, Alvarez said, "Dalawa na kami nanawagan."

Several groups led by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) filed an impeachment complaint against Morales in December. They accused her of culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, and betrayal of public trust.

Asked if there are lawmakers interested in endorsing, Alvarez said, "Hanggang ngayon, hinahanap ko yan kasi ako naman, di ako pwede mag-endorse dahil nga baka kung ano sasabihin na naman."

"Kahit nga doon kay CJ Sereno, 'di ako nag-endorse tapos ako pa rin ang pinagbibintangan, ako daw ay may interes para i-impeach siya. Pambihira naman," he said.

Asked why the House would still be interested in impeaching Morales when she will be retiring in a few months, Alvarez said, "Tinatanong ko rin sa sarili ko yun."

Calls for the impeachment of Morales gained some traction after her office refused to implement the suspension order imposed by the Office of the President on Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang over his investigation of the allegedly spurious bank accounts of President Rodrigo Duterte and his family.

Alvarez said he wanted to leave the matter of the standoff to the courts. 

"Ayaw ko na makialam doon, ayaw ko na makisawsaw. Masyadong marami na, magulo na masyado. I think it would be better if we will just let the courts decide," he said.

The Office of the President feels it can get the Supreme Court to reverse a 2014 ruling that struck down the President's disciplinary powers over the Ombudsman's staff and officials. 

The 1987 Constitution mandates that the Ombudsman, like the President, may only be held accountable through impeachment proceedings at the House of Representatives.

For Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, the President's suspension of Carandang is a gross violation of the rule of law, which the Duterte administration habitually infringes. 

He said Morales should "remain steadfast in refusing to enforce the void suspension of her deputy which defies the final Supreme Court decision in the Gonzales case denying the President's authority to discipline the Ombudsman's deputies."