MANILA - Malacañang on Friday maintained that newly appointed Ombudsman Samuel Martires is not tainted with any scandal, as a group questioned his integrity and independence.
“Wala pong bahid ng kahit anong eskandalo ang kanyang buhay; at hinahangaan ko talaga siya, dahil siya naman po talaga ay bihasa sa batas at talaga namang nire-recognize bilang isang legal luminary sa aming mga abogado,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told dzRH.
(He has not been tainted with any scandal in his life. I really admire him for his knowledge of the law. He is recognized as a legal luminary among lawyers.)
Martires said he will be impartial in handling cases at the Office of the Ombudsman, where some of the pending high-profile cases involve former Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Benigno Aquino III, as well as incumbent officials, including the son of President Duterte, resigned Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte.
“Kung the evidence will show that there is a probable cause to file charges against any members of the family, why not? Kaya nga ako tinalaga dito. Pero kung wala naman, sana tanggapin,” Martires told reporters.
A group has questioned the independence of Martires, noting how he voted in several controversial and high-profile cases.
The Coalition for Justice said it objects to Martires’ appointment, noting “his decisions have been suspiciously aligned with the interests of this and previous administrations.”
“He voted in favor of martial law in Mindanao and the continued detention of Senator Leila de Lima. Notoriously, he publicly favored the burial of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani,” the group said in a statement.
“This is the same Justice Martires who refused to inhibit himself from the quo warranto case against former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno despite his clear demonstration of bias, and faith-shamed her during the oral arguments. He eventually voted for her ouster.
The group said given Martires’ track record, he will not pursue ill-gotten wealth cases against Paolo, having once acquitted the father, then Davao City Mayor Duterte.
“The likelihood that he will investigate the Duterte family's bank accounts is extremely low,” the group said.
“Considering his track record, the new Ombudsman gives us little hope that the corrupt within the Duterte Administration will be brought to justice.
Meanwhile, Senator Francis Pangilinan, president of the opposition Liberal Party, said in a statement that the party trusts that Martires “will be at the helm of an honest-to-goodness anti-corruption office that will not condone abuses and corruption of public officials, both allies and critics of the administration.”
“We hope Ombudsman Martires will not be a tool of anyone, and will go after corrupt officials by building a strong case backed by evidence.”