Dispatch from Crame No. 350: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Statement on the retirement today of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales


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Nalulungkot po akong masaksihan ang pagtatapos ng termino ni Hon. Conchita Carpio-Morales bilang punong Ombudsman, matapos ang pitong taon ng kapuri-puring serbisyo sa taumbayan.

Ombudsman Chit could have chosen to enjoy her time with her grandchildren after retiring from the judiciary in 2011. Instead, she chose to take on the tremendous challenge of leading the Office of the Ombudsman, and of repairing its then damaged integrity under a predecessor who had valued debts of gratitude to former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Ombudsman Chit did this, because she wanted to assure her grandchildren that, in her own words, “tomorrow will be a better day.”

At totoo nga, naging tapat siya sa kanyang pangako.

Under her watch, the Office of the Ombudsman reduced its case backlog drastically. In fact, Ombudsman Chit sacrificed her weekends just to work on cases, saying that justice itself demanded this. The delivery of justice, she said, meant acting quickly on citizens’ petitions and grievances, yet measuring painstakingly how each decision would impact the entire justice system.

Nagtagumpay si Ombudsman Chit sa paghubog ng isang kultura ng integridad sa kanyang kagawaran. Nagabayan niya ang kanyang mga imbestigador at mga prosekutor na hindi bumigay sa panggigipit ng mga pulitikong hayok sa kapangyarihan at walang pananagutan sa taumbayan.

Kaya naaangkop lamang na nagawaran siya ng Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service noong 2016.

After restoring the image of her office, Ombudsman Chit was then forced to deal with a new President who clearly holds the rule of law in contempt, consistently disregarding it in most of his actions.

Whoever will replace her will have big, big shoes to fill. Her legacy should not be wasted by the next Ombudsman.

We may never again see this level of integrity in our public officials – or at least not for a long time. Definitely not under this Duterte administration where justice has been so twisted to the extent that drug lords, vigilante killers and corrupt officials remain untouched while thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings were left to fend for themselves.

Not only that. The justice system was weaponized so that Malacañang could go after critics like how they fabricated drug charges against me in a failed bid to silence me.

Ombudsman Chit is one of the few bright lights left in the leadership posts of a government enveloped in encroaching darkness. Nakakalungkot meron na namang mawawala sa mga natitirang liwanag sa ating pamahalaan.

She may be a private citizen now, but she continues to be a brave warrior for justice and accountability. Just take note how she, on her last few days in office, took parting shots against the highest court that ‘nipped in the bud’ the plunder case against Gloria Arroyo.

To Ombudsman Chit, thank you for your years of exemplary service to the people. Your grandchildren are waiting. I hope that you will be able to make up for the lost time. ###

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