Office of the Ombudsman will not be used as tool against anyone, Morales assures

May 15, 2012 10:35 pm 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, May 15 – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales assured on Tuesday that she will not allow the Office of the Ombudsman to be used as a tool to pin down anyone critical to the present administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

”I would not jeopardize my 40 years of government service – spotless, I am immodest to say that – by allowing myself to be tool of anyone in order to get back at certain persons against whom that anyone is sore at,” Morales said as she returned to the witness stand of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

She made the statement after Senator-Judge Jinggoy Estrada expressed his apprehension after the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) provided the Office of the Ombudsman with a report containing the alleged US$ 12- million dollar "fresh" deposits in five bank accounts of Corona.

”Sometimes, I’m thinking that the AMLC or your office will be used by some politicians critical to this administration. I hope you can give us the assurance,” Estrada told Morales.

”I will assure you that,” Morales replied to Estrada, whose father, former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, was subject of an aborted impeachment trial in 2000.

Estrada replied: “That’s the reason I really admire you, Mrs. Ombudsman.”

”Thank you so much, Mr. Senator,” Morales acknowledged.

The senator went on to inquire if the Ombudsman has also sought the assistance of AMLC regarding the case of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who replaced former President Estrada in 2001.

”I think, on the contrary, it was they (AMLC) who furnished us. I don’t know if it was on account of the previous request…is Mr. Fangon around? He is the head of the field investigation office. Can you please enlighten us? Assistant Ombudsman Fangon says there is no request neither is there a transmittal,” Morales answered.

Morales said one of the two graft and corruption complaints against Mrs. Arroyo has already been dismissed. Mrs. Arroyo appointed Corona seven days after the May 10, 2010 national elections.

The Ombudsman said she inherited over 10,000 cases from her predecessor, Merceditas Gutierrez, who was forced to resign when she was impeached at the House of Representatives last year.

As she returned to the witness stand, Morales said Corona has allegedly moved over US$ 3.3 million during the impeachment weak in December last year from three banks — Allied Bank, Bank of the Philippine Island, and Philippine Savings Bank.

The $ 3.3-million was part of the US$ 10-million transaction balances from 82 dollar accounts in five banks of Corona from 2003 to December 2011, she said.

”The amounts appearing in the tabulation are not account balances but rather they are transaction balances,” Morales said.

She said her analysis of the dollar accounts of Corona was based from the report submitted to her by AMLC Executive Director Vicente Aquino.

The Ombudsman told the court that a waiver attached to the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth of Corona has authorized her to look into the chief magistrate’s dollar accounts through the assistance of the AMLC. (PNA) scs/jfm

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