By Hannah Torregoza
Newly appointed Ombudsman Samuel Martires will have “big, big shoes” to fill now that Conchita Carpio-Morales is out of the office, so says opposition Sen. Leila de Lima.
“Whoever will replace her will have big, big shoes to fill. Her legacy should not be wasted by the next Ombudsman,” de Lima said in a statement.
De Lima, who is currently detained at the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) custodial center in Camp Crame over drug charges said, the country may never again see the level of integrity that Carpio-Morales exemplified as a public official.
“We may never again see this level of integrity in our public officials – or at least not for a long time,” de Lima said.
“Definitely not under this Duterte administration where justice has been so twisted to the extent that drug lords, vigilante killers and corrupt officials remain untouched while thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings were left to fend for themselves,” added the senator who is a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte appointed Martires, a Supreme Court Associate Justice, to the post to replace Carpio-Morales who retired on Wednesday. He was the President’s first appointee to the high court.
Duterte described Martires as a “bright and fair man.”
De Lima lamented Carpio-Morales’ retirement from public service, describing her as “one of the few bright lights left in the leadership posts of a government enveloped in encroaching darkness.”
Under her watch, the senator said the Office of the Ombudsman reduced its case backlog drastically. In fact, she said the former Ombudsman sacrificed her weekends just to work on cases by saying that justice itself demanded this.
For the former Ombudsman, the delivery of justice meant acting quickly on citizens’ petitions and grievances, yet measuring painstakingly how each decision would impact the entire justice system, de Lima noted.
“She may be a private citizen now, but she continues to be a brave warrior for justice and accountability,” de Lima said.
“Just take note how she, on her last few days in office, took parting shots against the highest court that ‘nipped in the bud’ the plunder case against Gloria Arroyo,” the senator added.
“To Ombudsman Chit, thank you for your years of exemplary service to the people. Your grandchildren are waiting. I hope that you will be able to make up for the lost time,” she said.