Exclusive: Ombudsman 'hurt' when Duterte accused her of corruption

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 11) — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales finally admitted Friday that President Rodrigo Duterte hurt her feelings with his tirades against her last year, but said this was just "human nature." 

"If you are stoic about it, if you are deadma about it, sira ulo ka [you're crazy]. Of course I was hurt," a candid Morales told CNN Philippines' The Source in an exclusive interview.

The normally fierce lady specifically recalled when Duterte told her "not [to] play God and shut up" in July last year after she criticized comments he made that she believed encouraged killings.

"Goading people to kill other people is, to me, unacceptable. What's wrong with that?" Morales asked. "There was nothing obnoxious [with what I said]. There was nothing that would indict the President in the way they understood it."

Despite the President's harsh words, the Ombudsman at the time only said in a statement that she was "amused by so much ado" about something she did not say.

Morales also recalled a speech Duterte delivered in October, where he said he told her, "You resign now. 'Pag hindi huhubaran kita [or I will expose you]."

Morales denied she took a jab at the President, whose daughter is married to a nephew of the Ombudsman, when she said a great country "[does] not need strongmen" in a speech last May. She had emphasized instead the importance of strong institutions.

The speech was delivered after Time Magazine named Duterte as a rising strongman, a label the President had rejected.

"If it hurt him or hit him, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to, or I didn't intend to hit him," Morales, who was appointed by former President Benigno Aquino, clarified.

Although the two are related by affinity, this had not eased tension between the two officials.

Duterte's allies had threatened Morales with impeachment and she defied a presidential order to suspend a deputy ombudsman who had been involved in an investigation on Duterte's finances.

But Morales considers the strained relations as nothing out of the ordinary.

"It's a normal relationship. He attacks me," she said. "You remember that phrase in Merchant of Venice: 'If you prick me, will I not bleed? If you tickle me, will I not laugh?' That's human nature."

Still, the Ombudsman gave credit to Duterte's fight against corruption. When asked what she thought of his order to boot out corrupt officials, she said, "That's exactly what he's doing."

She noted, however, that Duterte is not even halfway through his term.

"Belief is one thing. Perception is another. Actuality is still another," she stressed.

Morales is due to retire on July 26, and administration critics worry that her post would be used to forward a political agenda.

Duterte had earlier said he would not appoint a woman as Morales' successor, and neither would he consult her on the matter.

The Ombudsman shrugged this off as Duterte's opinion.

"I wish him well, of course," she said. "I wish him well for the good of the Philippines."

Programming note: The Source interview with Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales airs today at 9:00 a.m., with replays at 2:00 and 7:30 p.m.