VACC: Grounds to impeach Ombudsman 'very strong'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 20) — Culpable violation of the Constitution and graft and corruption.

These are the grounds for the forthcoming impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, according to the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).

In a May 20 forum, VACC legal counsel Jacinto Paras said the group will file the complaint as soon as House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez returns to the country.

 

But this early, he said the VACC is confident the complaint will pass the House Justice Committee after getting the support of 30 congressmen.

"We have very strong grounds, pero every day, napupunuan ng mga supporting evidence [We have very strong grounds, but every day, there is more supporting evidence]," Paras said.

He said the VACC believes there has been an inordinate delay in the cases filed before the Ombudsman, saying at least half of pending cases have not been acted upon in the last two to four years.

"It becomes the burial grounds of cases ang [the] Ombudsman," he said.

Paras also said Morales favored former President Benigno Aquino III and his top cabinet officials in many controversial cases.

He said these include the failed operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that killed 44 Special Action Force troopers, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional and the allegedly anomalous contract for the maintenance of Metro Rail Transit.

"Allies like (former Transportation Secretary Joseph) Abaya, (former Interior Secretary) Mar Roxas, (former Budget Secretary Florencio) Abad, (former Agriculture Secretary Proceso) Alcala, they've been exonerated or they've been shielded by the Ombudsman," Paras said.

The Ombudsman indicted Abad on March 7 for usurpation of legislative powers for his role in the implementation of DAP, which was a special budget used by the President to implement priority programs, but cleared Aquino as the Ombudsman has no authority over impeachable officials.

Read: Aquino cleared, Abad charged over DAP—Ombudsman

The last straw

But Paras said the last straw was when Morales said she will block the move to make alleged pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim Napoles a state witness.

Read: Ombudsman to block Napoles from becoming state witness

"As far as the prosecution is concerned, she is one of the principal malefactors, alleged malefactors. So certainly the office of the prosecutors will block any attempt to make her a state witness," Morales said on May 16.

The Court of Appeals cleared Napoles on May 8 in the charge of serious illegal detention of her second cousin, whistleblower Benhur Luy.

Read: Janet Lim Napoles acquitted in serious illegal detention case

However, Napoles was charged with plunder at the Sandiganbayan, along with former senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada.

She is facing three other pork barrel scam cases: malversation, graft and direct bribery charges with former congressmen.

Para said Napoles was not the most guilty in the pork barrel scam, which is why she deserves to become a state witness.

Napoles' lawyer Stephen David, who also attended the forum, said he supports Morales' impeachment because there are "valid grounds."

David was one of the prosecutors who built the case for the impeachment of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

Reacting to VACC's plan in January 2017 to file an impeachment case against her, Morales told CNN Philippines she is unfazed by any threat of impeachment as all her decisions on cases are based on solid evidence.

Read: Ombudsman to Supreme Court: Suspend inordinate delay doctrine

"If that is intended to scare me into filing a case against Aquino even if the evidence does not warrant [it], I'm sorry to disappoint them. They can go ahead," Morales said on "The Source."