By Rey Panaligan
The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday dismissed two petitions that sought the ouster of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales from her post because her term of office had allegedly expired on Nov. 30, 2012.
Dismissed by the SC during its full court session in Baguio City were the petitions filed by Rey Nathaniel Ifurong and Al S. Vitangcol III.
The SC ruled:
“… as provided in Article XI, Section 11 of the 1986 Constitution, Sections. 7 and 8(3) of Republic Act 6770, the Ombudsman is appointed to a full term of seven years without reappointment and not simply the unexpired portion of the predecessor.”
Morales took over the post vacated on May 6, 2011 by Merceditas Gutierrez who resigned to avoid an impeachment trial. Gutierrez’s term would have expired on Nov. 30, 2012.
In a petition, former Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) general manager Al Vitangcol III said Morales was appointed in 2011 to merely serve the unexpired portion of the seven-year term of then Ombudsman Gutierrez.
With her resignation, Vitangcol claimed that Gutierrez’s term of seven years that was filled up by Morales expired on Nov. 30, 2012.
He told the SC the intent of the law was for the successor of Gutierrez to serve the remainder of her term only, not for a full term of seven years.
“Thus, Morales is usurping her office,” Vitangcol said.
With his petition, Vitangcol asked the SC to declare all orders, decisions and resolutions “rendered personally” by Morales from Dec. 1, 2012 null and void.
“Affected cases should be remanded to the Deputy Ombudsman for proper disposition, pending the appointment of a new Ombudsman,” he said.
For his part, Ifurung said the intent of the law was for Morales to serve the remainder of the term of Gutierrez, not a full term of seven years.
At the same time, he sought to declare vacant the other top positions in the Office of the Ombudsman.;