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Ombudsman on EJK probe vs. Duterte: There are many possibilities

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Friday night hinted at the possibility of President Rodrigo Duterte being investigated on alleged extrajudicial killings.

"We don't discount any possibility that we'll spare him or indict him. We are talking about possibilities. There are many possibilities,” Morales said in an interview during the UP College of Law reunion in Makati City when asked about the possibility of launching an investigation against Duterte on allegations of extrajudicial killings.

Morales also said that the Ombudsman may conduct a probe on a person who has immunity from charges "for purposes of determining whether there's a misconduct."

She added that if misconduct is proven, "it can be a basis of impeachment if it amounts to the grounds of impeachment under the constitution."

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar refused to comment on the Ombudsman's statements.

Morales had stated that she would inhibit from cases involving Duterte as she is the aunt-in-law of Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, married to Atty. Manases Carpio, the Ombudsman's nephew.

Duterte has a pending plunder case with the Office of the Ombudsman filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV before the May 9, 2016 elections.

The senator accused Duterte of having ghost employees in the Davao City government's payroll during his term as mayor.

Even after Duterte was seen as a clear winner of the presidential election, Morales said her office would continue its probe in connection with the case filed by Trillanes.

In her speech during the reunion, Morales spoke out against extrajudicial killings.

She said the country is going through "dark times" and needs to go back to basics and look to two of the Ten Commandments, including Thou Shall Not Kill and Thou Shall Not Steal.

Hundreds of drug suspects have been either killed in police operations or vigilante-style killings since July, the same month that the Duterte administration launched an intensified anti-drugs campaign.

Encouraging rights violations

She added in her speech that the public should be concerned when government leaders promote rather than condemn violations of human rights.

"When leaders seem to send the message of promoting rather than condemning reprehensible acts that transgress basic human rights, the people ought to be concerned about it, rather than cheering for it either out of sheer ignorance, callous conscience, blind loyalty or gorgonized fanaticism," she said.

Before he assumed office, Duterte announced that he would offer a P3-million reward to those who could kill or capture drug lords.

Morales lamented in her speech how people tend to be misled by leaders who "could not figure out what is right and wrong."

She said amid reports of grave human rights violations, people should be asking, "What have we become as a nation?"

She called for respect for the rule of law.

"It seems that no matter how highly we regard ourselves, there is still a higher order: there exists the overarching rule of law," she said.

"The law serves as the proverbial lighthouse that guides a nation as it charts the course of history. It mirrors the matrix of values or mores of a given society," she added.

She noted that upholding the rule of law comes at a price.

Social media

She even admitted that when she was asked to speak at the UP College of Law reunion on "how best to act despite the times,” she was tempted to advise others simply to "shut up, lest you want to be cyber-bullied.”

The Ombudsman lamented how some people abuse social media to spread lies and create dissension, such that today, "emotional impact rather than truth is what matters. There is a lack of demand for truthful and honest discourse."

"Facebook has become a searing battleground for propagandists, apologists and trolls to foment dissension to a vulnerable, ill-informed young population that acknowledges Google as the sole and primary source of information for just about everything," she added.

However, she said, "as lawyers for the people, we should not wait until the 'sea of ethics' runs dry nor should we allow the navy captain to altogether dismantle the lighthouse that gets in his way." — VVP/ALG, GMA News