Duterte’s anti-corruption body ‘born out of reprisal’ but ‘congenitally infirm’ – Lagman

October 7, 2017 - 9:52 AM
File photos of President Rodrigo Duterte (from Reuters) and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales (from Philstar)

MANILA, Philippines — Not only is the body created by President Rodrigo Duterte ostensibly to fight corruption “born out of reprisal,” it is also “afflicted with congenital infirmity” as it “violates the Constitution” and the Ombudsman Act of 1989, an opposition lawmaker said Saturday.

The Philippine Anti-Corruption Commission “is flawed from the beginning since no less than Duterte himself projected the establishment of the PACC after the Ombudsman ordered the investigation of the unexplained wealth of Duterte and his family,” Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said in a statement.

Besides this, Lagman said, the commission goes against the Constitution and Republic Act No. 6770, which created the Office of the Ombudsman, “for illegally duplicating and intruding into the authority and powers of the Ombudsman to investigate public officials and employees, including those in the military and police establishments, for graft as basis for prosecution or impeachment.”

He also noted that Duterte, in “the ordinate rush to create the PACC,” overlooked the fact that he “does not have any jurisdiction … to investigate presidential appointees, like the Ombudsman and her deputies as well as the principal officials of constitutional bodies, who are outside of the Executive Department and beyond the reach of the President’s power of supervision and control.”

Duterte created the PACC through Executive Order No. 43, which he signed Wednesday, October 4, “to directly assist the President in investigating and/or hearing administrative cases primarily involving graft and or corruption against all presidential appointees.”

The EO cites “a need to create a separate commission under the Office of the President solely dedicated to providing assistance to the President in the investigation and hearing of administrative cases and complaints, and in the conduct of lifestyle checks and/or fact-finding inquiries concerning presidential appointees and other public officers allegedly involved in graft and corrupt practices, or have committed other higher crimes and/or violations of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.”

Before its creation, Duterte had railed against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, accusing her of “selective justice.”

His anger with Morales and the constitutional body she heads deepened lately following reports it was investigating his alleged hidden wealth.

Duterte has said he will not cooperate with the Ombudsman’s probe and has also threatened to personally initiate the impeachment of Morales.