Duterte defends son-in-law vs Trillanes' accusation

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(L-R) Trillanes, Carpio, Duterte

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 29) — A lawyer just doing his job.

This was how President Rodrigo Duterte fended off accusations of Sen. Sonny Trillanes that his son-in-law, Atty. Mans Carpio, was part of the so-called "Davao Group" peddling influence at the Bureau of Customs (BOC), allegedly asking brokers for bribe to hasten the release of shipments.

Trillanes, in a Senate hearing earlier in the day, said he had witnesses who would attest that Carpio — husband of Davao City mayor Sara Duterte — had been seen at the BOC several times this year and late last year.

RELATED: Trillanes links Duterte son, son-in-law to 'Davao Group'

Duterte, who led a mass oath-taking of newly-appointed officials in Malacanang, said there was nothing wrong for Carpio to practice his legal profession and represent a company which would have transactions with the BOC.

"Ito, abogado ito. Long before 'yung Mighty ano - Might King, ang office nila ang nag-handle niyan," he said.

[Translation: He is a lawyer. Long before with Mighty King. His law firm represents them.]

The President, who was a prosecutor himself before becoming mayor, said that it was common for lawyers to have big companies as clients.

"Syempre piliin mo 'yung kliyenteng may pera. Kaya sabi ko, kung hanggang diyan, okay lang, sabi ko. It's lawyering. Nobody can question us and even I, when as a matter of fact it is just part of our profession, our vocation as a lawyer. Alam naman natin 'yang mga abogado."

[Translation: Of course, you choose clients who can pay. So I said, that's okay. It's lawyering. Nobody can question us and even I, when as a matter of fact it is just part of our profession, our vocation as a lawyer. We lawyers know that.]

Related: Duterte: Give me evidence proving son's corruption, and I will resign

Rody vs Conchita

Meanwhile, if Duterte took up the cudgels for Carpio, he had a mouthful against Carpio's aunt, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

Duterte said Morales had "mastered the art of selective justice."

"Harsh on some, soft on others even when they all suffer from similar or analogous circumstances. Slow to act on complaints against the 'friendly' but quick to decide against perceived 'hostiles,'" he said, criticizing Morales for the slow pace in resolving 'pork' cases.

"I can only wish that the Ombudsman would go beyond the friendship bonds and adapt the aforequoted principle as a governing rule in the performance of its constitutional mandate," Duterte said.

The President also questioned Morales' stay in office — citing that she only took over because her predecessor, Merceditas Gutierrez, had stepped down in 2011.

"May I add, your hold to the office is very, very precarious. You are supposed to serve the remaining terms of the guy who resigned, not to a full term. That is very clear under the law. But it has not been questioned until now. I do not know why," he said.

Duterte and Morales started trading barbs late last month after the state of the nation address -- when the President said the Ombudsman, and even the Commission on Human Rights, should seek clearance from him before summoning police and military officers for investigation.

CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong and Cecille Lardizabal contributed to this report.