Lawyer groups file impeachment complaint vs. Ombudsman

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Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales was accused of betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption, and violation of the Constitution. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 13) — A group of lawyers filed an impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales Wednesday.

A lawmaker has to endorse the complaint before it can be taken up by the House of Representatives. There's no endorser as yet.

Advocacy groups Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), Tanggulang Demokrasya, and the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, Inc. filed the complaint against the Ombudsman.

Other complainants include some relatives of the Philippine National Police's Special Action Forces (SAF). Fourty-four SAF members were killed in the botched Mamasapano encounter on Jan. 25, 2015.

"The Office of the Ombudsman has become a burial ground of cases of great importance to the people," the complaint read.

The complainants said Morales could be impeached due to betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption, and violation of the Constitution under six grounds.

According to the complaint, Morales conspired with Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang in releasing bank information related to the alleged bank transactions of President Rodrigo Duterte's family.

In September, Carandang confirmed the Office of the Ombudsman was conducting a  probe on the presidential family's wealth, in response to a plunder complaint filed by Senator Antonio Trillanes during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Morales said she inhibited herself from the case as she is the aunt of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte's husband, Atty. Manases Carpio. The mayor is President Rodrigo Duterte's daughter.

READ: Palace: Duterte unfazed by Ombudsman's probe on wealth

The complainants also accused Morales of "selective prosecution" and failing to act promptly on cases.

On March 7, the Ombudsman cleared Aquino of liabilities over the P72-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program controversy, while it found probable cause to charge former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad for violating the Revised Penal Code for usurpation of legislative powers.

The complaint also said Morales was biased towards former President Benigno Aquino III, who appointed her on July 28, 2011.

"The Office of the Ombudsman sat on the complaint as well as turned a blind eye on the criminal responsibility of former president Aquino III for the death of the 44 PNP-SAF and the wounding of fifteen others, during the conduct of the botched Oplan Exodus," the complaint read.

Morales ordered the filing of criminal charges against Aquino in July 2017 in relation to the botched Maguindanao operation. Aquino is facing charges of usurpation of authority under the Revised Penal Code and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

But the VACC said charges against Aquino were downgraded.

READ: Ombudsman 'downgraded' charges vs Aquino - VACC

The Ombudsman, on Wednesday, said she has "nothing to say” until she has a copy of the complaint.

Morales, in early October, said she has "nothing to hide" so she has "nothing to fear" when the President said he would file an impeachment against her for “selective justice” and for using “fabricated papers.”

The complaint needs a a vote of at least one-third of the members of the House of Representatives, or 98 out of 292 lawmakers, before it can proceed to an impeachment trial at the Senate.

The House Justice Committee is in the process of determining probable cause against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who is also facing an impeachment complaint.

In October, President Duterte claimed the impeachment proceedings against Sereno and Morales are under way.

READ: Impeachment proceedings vs. Sereno, Morales underway