MANILA (UPDATED) - Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has been selected as one of six awardees of this year's prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award.
The Ombudsman was recognized by the award-giving body for restoring faith in the rule of law.
"In electing Conchita Carpio-Morales to receive the 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes her moral courage and commitment to justice in taking head-on one of the most intractable problems in the Philippines; promoting by her example of incorruptibility, diligence, vision and leadership, the highest ethical standards in public service," the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation said.
Aside from the Philippines, other awardees came from India, Indonesia, Japan and Laos. They are:
Bezwada Wilson (India)
Dompet Dhuafa (Indonesia)
Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (Japan)
Thodur Madabusi Krishna (India)
Vientiane Rescue (Laos)
Carpio-Morales, who retired as Supreme Court Associate Justice, was appointed Ombudsman in 2011. President Benigno S. Aquino III announced her appointment during his second State of the Nation Address in 2011.
The RMAF said that when Carpio-Morales was appointed Ombudsman, the justice system was "extremely sluggish; cases have mostly involved low-level officials and employees; and public confidence in government’s resolve to root out corruption is practically non-existent."
The foundation said Carpio-Morales professionalized and upgraded the Office of the Ombudsman's capabilities, "revolutionized its anti-corruption program to include the designation of deputy ombudsmen for environmental concerns and for investment-related problems; and improved its responsiveness to calls for public assistance."
"Setting a target of zero backlog in the investigation or adjudication of cases and disposition of all requests for assistance, the backlog has already decreased and she expects to hit the target by 2018. She raised the independence and quality of OMB’s fact-finding investigations, evidence build-up, prosecution strategies and case management to ensure that meritorious cases are not sabotaged, withdrawn, or dismissed."
These, the RMAF said, yielded positive results.
"From 2011 to 2015, the conviction rate of cases handled by OMB before the Sandiganbayan rose from 33.3 percent to 74.5 percent," it noted.
The foundation also took notice of her move to file cases against high-ranking officials.
"Under her leadership, OMB has boldly imposed strict administrative sanctions on high officials, filing cases against a former president; a former vice-president; incumbent senators, congressmen, and governors. She is the first Ombudsman to use the waiver in the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth as basis to secure bank records in impeaching one of the country’s highest officials."
At 75 years old and unfazed and determined despite death threats, the RMAF described Carpio-Morales as an "inspiring public servant".
She is the fifth Ombudsman since the Office of the Ombudsman became operational in May, 1998.
Carpio-Morales obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 1964 and Bachelor of Laws in 1968, both from the University of the Philippines (UP). She then worked at the Atienza Tabora and Del Rosario Law Offices after finishing law school.
For almost 12 years, starting in 1971, she joined the Department of Justice as Special Assistant to then Justice Secretary Vicente Abad Santos before moving to the Judiciary in 1983 when President Ferdinand Marcos appointed her Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge in Pili, Camarines Sur.
She was appointed Pasay City Regional Trial Court Judge in 1986 by President Corazon Aquino and at the Court of Appeals, where she eventually headed the 7th Division, by President Fidel V. Ramos in 1994.
She was then elevated to the Supreme Court by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2002 upon the endorsement of the Judicial and Bar Council.
Carpio-Morales is related to President Rodrigo Duterte by marriage.
She is the sister of Atty. Lucas Carpio Jr, husband of Court of Appeals Justice Agnes Carpio. Lucas and Agnes are the parents of Mans Carpio, husband of Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
Last year, Filipina Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa was also included as one of the recipients of the Ramon Magsaysay Award.
Fernando-Amilbangsa was recognized for her single-minded crusade in preserving the endangered artistic heritage of southern Philippines, and in creatively propagating a dance form that celebrates and deepens the sense of shared cultural identity among Asians.