"Ano ang pakialam niya (Why should he interfere)?"
These were the words of Morales when she was asked about President Duterte's assertion that he must first be consulted before investigating soldiers and police officers.
Morales said her office is authorized to order involved government law enforcers in cooperating with investigations or accusations. They have the right to defend themselves during investigation stage, if they fail to answer subpoenas, it means they are waiving their own rights to file counter affidavits.
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"Under the law, we have subpoena powers. We have orders for officials including soldiers and police to file pleadings," she said in an interview after addressing a symposium in Cubao.
"There is no law that requires a solider or a policeman or any respondent for that matter to seek the clearance from anybody," Morales said. "If they don’t file pleadings, that’s their lookout. To say they need prior approval of the President, that’s the lookout of those to whom he is addressing that."
Whatever the President says, the Ombudsman's office will follow normal procedure on cases wherein the accused failed to file counter affidavits. If there's a probable cause from the evidences, the case will proceed in court and if there's not enough basis on the case, the complaint will be dismissed.
"If there is probable cause on the basis of the evidence of the complainant, we will continue filing a case in court," she said. "Even if he (the accused policeman) doesn’t answer, we will dismiss the case," she stated.
She also stated it is up to the respondents if they will heed on the President's remarks. She insisted that her office can pursue the investigation even without the presence of the respondents when there is already a probably cause based from the gathered evidences.
Last Monday, July 24, during the President second State of the Nation Address (SONA), he will do all possible method in witholding accused soldiers and cops for allegations on human rights violations.
"Kapag sinabi ko na huwag kayo magpa-imbestiga, huwag kayo papa-imbestiga," Duterte had said.
Several murder complaints filed against policemen are being handled by the office of Morales. The allegations are in relation to the TokHang cases from President Duterte's drug against illegal drugs.
According to lawyers representing families of the victims, the police is not cooperating in the investigations of their involved men.
"[We] cannot be starting from scratch. [We] must subpoena documents and all that, whether or not this subpoena had been heeded by the addressees, I don't know yet," Morales said.
"The Ombudsman cannot be silenced. You can attempt to suppress the messenger, but you can never suppress the message," she said.
She said that her remark is addressed to all of her critics.
"Marami diyan na bumabatikos sa 'kin eh akala mo kung sino sila. Sila ang maging Ombudsman. It's a thankless job," she said.
Source: INQ, Rappler