MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo called on Filipinos to defend their constitutional offices as the Ombudsman once again comes under fire from President Rodrigo Duterte.
Robredo made the statement after Duterte said he would snub the Office of the Ombudsman’s probe into his wealth, with bank records showing that some P1 billion flowed into the President’s accounts.
“Sa ating kasaysayan, ilang beses nang hinamon ang kasarinlan ng mga opisinang ito. Sa bawa't pagkakataon, hinahamon din ang tibay ng loob ng sambayanang ipagtanggol ang ating mga institusyon,” said Robredo.
(Our history shows that the independence of these offices has been repeatedly challenged. Every time, the nation is also challenged to defend these institutions.)
"Amid the issues being faced by these constitutional offices, Filipinos must again strengthen their resolve. Together, let us uphold the Constitution and our democratic institutions, including the impartial Ombudsman," she said in Filipino.
Robredo, a human rights lawyer, said constitutional offices were created to stop abuses under the Marcos regime from happening again.
The Vice President said the Ombudsman, Civil Service Commission, Commission on Audit, Commission on Elections, and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) all play “critical roles” in protecting the country from abuse by government.
“Kailangang galangin ang kasarinlang iginagawad ng Konstitusyon sa mga opisinang ito upang kanilang magampanan ang tungkuling panatilihing malinis at tapat ang gobyerno (We need to respect the independence that the Constitution granted to these offices so they could perform their task to keep the government clean and honest),” she said.
Duterte earlier said he would create a commission to investigate the Ombudsmanfor alleged corruption.
The President had also challenged Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to resign with him, saying that if none of them get the authority to investigate each other for corruption, then it will be the military who will do so.
Duterte and his allies have also slammed the CHR for criticizing the administration’s bloody war on drugs, even if this is part of the Commission's mandate. (READ: Gascon urges Duterte to view CHR as part of 'check and balance system’)