NEW YORK – The Philippines’ top graft-buster, Conchita Carpio-Morales, met with the Filipino community at a town hall meeting May 27, 2014 at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center in Manhattan.
Carpio-Morales, who was appointed Ombudsman three years ago, underscored the accomplishments of her office which includes the arrest and prosecution of high-profile officials involved in graft and corruption cases — one of which is that of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
She said the former President “is now in detention and it’s non-bailable,” adding that “she [former President Macapagal-Arroyo] asked for hospital arrest and the court gave her that privilege.”
Before she spoke, however, Consul General Mario L. de Leon, Jr., delivered his remarks. He echoed President Benigno Aquino III’s message at the recently concluded World Economic Forum in Manila, where the President told his audience that “good governance makes good economics.” The Consul General enjoined the Filipino community that they should understand the workings of the Office of the Ombudsman.
“All should make it their responsibility to be informed and invested on transparency and integrity management programs of the government,” de Leon said. “Each citizen is a partner of the Ombudsman in good governance, to lead our country to economic progress.”
The Consulate said Carpio-Morales is in New York at the invitation of U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg “for a study tour to share her experience and expertise in fighting graft and corruption to her American counterparts.”
After her presentation, Carpio-Morales fielded questions from the audience who were most interested in the on-going case of Janet Lim-Napoles and the three high-level politicians who were implicated in the Pork Barrel scandal.
When asked whether the Ombudsman has enough evidence to indict Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, Carpio-Morales hesitated a bit and said that it was supposed to be confidential.
“But, but, given the fact,” she continued, “that the Ombudsman has already come up with a resolution that there’s a probable cause, we believe that the crimes were committed, that the respondents are probably guilty, we have enough evidence.” Her response drew applause from the audience.
The 72-year-old Ombudsman from Paoay, Ilocos Norte appeared determined and firm to pursue cases of graft and corruption in the government. She said she is not intimated by death threats and grenades.
“If the putting of a hand grenade on a fence by my gate was a threat, I’m sorry, they are the ones who are threatened,” Carpio-Morales said. “I chase corrupt people, they chase me but they cannot catch up with me, because I walk faster than they do.” Her remarks drew laughter from the audience.
Other questions were more general, procedural and revolved around technical aspects of her job as the Philippines’ Dispenser of Justice, including mechanics available for citizens to report anonymously on corruption-related activities they observe from their public servants.
After her New York visit, Ombudsman Carpio-Morales and her delegation, Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon and Environmental Ombudsman Gerard Mosquera, Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Rodolfo M. Elman, Director Dennis Baldago of the Project Management Bureau, Acting Director Mary Despojo of the Public Information and Media Relations Bureau, Evelyn Dumdum, Mercy Orca, Robert Strang, Jacquelyn Bridgers and Noel Del Prado then proceeded to San Francisco for the West Coast trip of their study tour.
PHOTO CAPTION AND CREDITS
Photo 1: Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales (Photo courtesy of dokalternatibo.org)
Photo 2: Ombudsman at the Philippine Center in New York: Clockwise from top: The Filipino community at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center; Deputy Consul General Zaldy Patron entertains guests during reception that preceded the Town Hall; Consul General De Leon and Ombudsman Morales having a light moment before the Town Hall session. (Photos by Renie Tomas)