By Daniel Llanto | FilAm Star Correspondent
President Rodrigo Duterte believes that Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales are being used by the political opposition to discredit his administration and thus, spark public outrage that could lead to his ouster from the presidency.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte is also asking Sereno and Morales to resign since the Supreme Court chief magistrate is “corrupt,” while Morales as anti-graft court head has engaged in “selective justice.”
Abella said Sereno and Morales are being used by some political forces to bring down Duterte, adding that nothing can stop the President from calling for their ouster. Sereno is facing an impeachment complaint at the House of Representatives while the pro-Duterte group Volunteers against Crime and Corruption (VACC) is planning to file a similar complaint against the Ombudsman.
“The President believes the Supreme Court Chief Justice and the Ombudsman have allowed themselves to be used by certain political forces to discredit him and his administration in order to spark public outrage and eventually oust him from the presidency,” Abella said.
The complaint also accused Sereno of culpably violating the Constitution by allegedly manipulating the shortlist of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to exclude former Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza over “personal and political reasons,” thereby disgracing Jardeleza, who was then solicitor general.
Sereno and Morales separately refused to heed Duterte’s call for their resignation. Sereno is fighting the second impeachment complaint at the House after the first was thrown out at committee level, while Morales dismissed the impeachment case planned against her as baseless.
Asked by reporters if Duterte has evidence against Sereno, Abella said that he trusts the President has the evidence. “I’m sure he does. He’s a lawyer. He knows he must speak out on the substantial evidence he has,” Abella said.
Duterte’s spokesman, however, said the President continues to respect the Office of the Ombudsman amid Duterte’s statement that he won’t cooperate with the investigation on his family’s alleged hidden wealth.
“President Duterte respects the institution, however, the practices of certain people there may be suspect,” Abella said. “The President has basically said it that he will not submit to that. In other words, he finds their position suspect,” he added.
The President earlier likened his current predicament to the situation of the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona who he said was bullied through documents from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
In a speech during his sixth visit to war-torn Marawi City, the Chief Executive said the scheme done by the Office of the Ombudsman in probing his family’s alleged ill-gotten wealth is exactly the same thing they did to Corona who was impeached by the Senate in 2012.
Duterte said the so-called documents floated by the Office of the Ombudsman allegedly obtained from the AMLC does not bear any weight if presented before the court. He suggested that it is the “yellows” who are behind the plot against the late Chief Justice and now against him, referring to the Liberal Party of former President Benigno Aquino III.
The President stressed that the same clique behind the “persecution” of Corona is at it again. “I am reiterating my demand that Carpio-Morales resign because they (only have) paper as evidence from the AMLC,” he said.
Duterte was referring to the bank records that Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang said that was provided by AMLC to reveal questionable transactions by Duterte family members.
Carandang said that Duterte’s family has a total of about PHP 1 billion based on the transaction records. However, it is the sum of all transactions and does not clearly show that the Duterte family has billions.