MANILA - Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said Sunday a Constitutional amendment is needed should the country's anti-graft body be abolished.
Carpio Morales had slammed the proposal of her successor Samuel Martires, which he made during a House budget hearing on Office of the Ombudsman.
"I am not for the abolition of the Office of the Ombudsman. It’s a Constitutional provision and therefore, if and when you consider abolishing the Ombudsman, we have to have a Constitutional amendment," she told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
Martires had also asked lawmakers to approve the independent body's initial budget as it does not have enough personnel.
"Nung umalis ako sa Office of the Ombudsman, wala akong naisip na kinukulang yung mga personnel ng respective regions sa buong Pilipinas," Carpio Morales noted.
(When I left the Office of the Ombudsman, I did not think we lacked personnel in respective regions nationwide.)
The former Ombudsman added that Martires should not rely on testimonies alone as documentary evidence such as officials' Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) can also be used in going after government officials suspected of being involved in corruption.
Martires earlier restricted access to SALN copies only for official investigations, by court order, or upon authority from officials themselves.
"Hindi naman pwede sabihin mo na walang kwenta ang Office of the Ombudsman, isasara mo na kasi wala namang gustong magtestigo," Carpio Morales said.
(You can't just abolish the Office of the Ombudsman just because there aren't people willing to testify.)
"Magaganda ang batas natin. It is in the implementation of the law na nagkakaproblema tayo. Walang strict implementation. Kahit sabihin mo na sundin natin ito, ganiyan, pero kung di mo naman nae-enforce, walang mangyayari."
(Our laws are good. We face problems in the implementation of the law. There's no strict implementation. Even if you ask people to follow this and that, if it's not enforced, nothing will happen.)
Carpio Morales was awarded in 2016 the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2016, Asia's highest honor recognized as the region's Nobel Prize, for "her moral courage and commitment to justice in taking" corruption "head-on" and "promoting by her example of incorruptibility, diligence, vision and leadership, the highest ethical standards in public service."
A retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, she was Ombdusman from 2011 to 2018.