MANILA - The Supreme Court has ruled that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales is entitled to a full 7-year term in office, a decision handed down nearly 3 months left before she vacates the post.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te said magistrates unanimously ruled that Morales, a former High Court Associate Justice, is entitled to a full term upon her appointment.
"The Ombudsman is appointed to a full term of 7 years without reappointment and not simply the unexpired portion of the predecessor," Te said of the decision.
Last year, lawyer Rey Nathaniel Ifurung and former Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) general manager Al Vitangcol III challenged the validity of Morales' appointment before the Supreme Court.
Vitangcol asked the High Court to direct Morales to vacate her post, arguing that her term expired on November 30, 2012 because she is supposed to serve only the remainder of the 7-year term of her predecessor Merceditas Gutierrez.
Gutierrez stepped down on May 6, 2011.
Morales had insisted that she was " following the law" and that any fresh appointee to the Ombudsman post must serve a full 7-year term.
Last month, the Judicial and Bar Council announced the opening for the submission of applications or recommendations for the position of Ombudsman.
The announcement came in light of the scheduled end of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales' 7-year term on July 26. She was appointed to the anti-corruption body in July 2011 by then President Benigno Aquino III.