THE Supreme Court has junked the consolidated petitions seeking to compel Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to vacate the position she was appointed to by then President Benigno Aquino III for allegedly overstaying.
During its en banc session in Baguio City, the SC voted unanimously to dismiss the petitions filed by former Metro Rail Transit Line 3 general manager Al Vitangcol and lawyer Rey Nathaniel Ifurung seeking the ouster of Morales for lack of merit.
SC spokesman Theodore Te stressed the tribunal ruled that Ombudsman Morales was appointed to a full term of seven years without reappointment and not simply the unexpired portion of the predecessor.
“The Court, voting unanimously, dismissed the Petitions in these consolidated cases, ruling that, as provided in Article XI, Sec. 11 of the 1986 Constitution, Sections 7 and 8(3) of Republic Act No. 6770, the Ombudsman is appointed to a full term of seven years without reappointment and not simply the unexpired portion of the predecessor,” Te told a news briefing.
In his petition, Vitangcol asked the SC to declare that the term of office of Morales had expired on Nov. 30, 2012.
Morales was appointed by Aquino III to a seven-year term on July 25, 2011 following the resignation of then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez over allegations of incompetence and inaction on various cases.
Gutierrez resigned on May 6, 2011 from the post to avoid an impeachment trial in the Senate, leaving an unexpired term until Nov. 30, 2012.
Vitangcol stressed that the intent of the law was for the successor of Gutierrez to serve the remainder of her term only, not for a fresh term of seven years.
According to him, the SC should declare Section 8 (3) of Republic Act 6770 or the Ombudsman Act of 1989 as unconstitutional for contravening the legislative intent that in case of vacancy, the new appointee should only serve the unexpired term of his or her predecessor.
Section 8(3) assures a fresh seven-year term for the successor of the incumbent ombudsman and his deputies.
“Legislative intent is part and parcel of the law. It is the controlling factor in interpreting a statute. In fact, any interpretation that runs counter with the legislative intent is unacceptable and invalid,” Vitangcol’s petition stated.
For his part, Ifurung pleaded the SC to declare unconstitutional Section 8 (3) of Republic Act No. 6770, also known as the Ombudsman Act of 1989, for being contrary to Section 11 in relation to Sections 8 and 10, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution.
Besides Morales, Ifurung also sought the ouster of Morales deputies: Melchor Arthur Carandang (Overall Deputy Ombudsman), Gerard Mosquera (Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon), Paul Elmer Clemente (Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas), Rodolfo Elman (Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao) and Cyril Ramos (Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices).
“The country deserves a new Ombudsman and Deputies Ombudsman, not because respondents are not qualified or that they are doing a disservice, but because we must follow the rule of law,” read the petition filed last June 2017.
A retired SC magistrate before being appointed Ombudsman, Morales, 76, will end her seven-year term as chief anti-graft buster on July 26, 2018.
Morales is the older sister of lawyer Lucas Carpio, Jr., husband of retired Court of Appeals Associate Justice Agnes Reyes-Carpio and father-in-law of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, and first cousin of senior SC associate justice Antonio Carpio.
Lucas and Agnes are the parents of lawyer Mans Carpio, the husband of President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
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