SC junks disbarment case vs Morales

MANILA — For lack of merit, the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed Wednesday the disbarment complaint filed against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.

In a unanimous resolution, the SC ruled that the “Ombudsman, who may be removed from office only by impeachment, cannot be charged with disbarment during her incumbency.”

The complaint was filed by defeated senatorial candidate Antonious Beda B. Belgica who claimed that Morales violated the lawyer’s oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility when she dismissed the criminal and administrative charges against former President Benigno S. Aquino III in connection with the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) without giving any reason.

Belgica claimed that Morales lacked integrity and was biased in the dismissal of the complaint against Aquino who appointed her Ombudsman.

He said he was not seeking the disbarment of Morales during her incumbency and pleaded that in the event that the complaint is resolved, the imposition of the penalty of disbarment should be deferred until the expiration of her term.

But the SC said “his complaint seeks to charge the Ombudsman with violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility and ultimately seeks her disbarment.”

It noted that “Belgica’s logic — that the Ombudsman may be charged with disbarment during her incumbency but the penalty may only be imposed after her term ends — is faulty and clearly contravenes the established principle that the Ombudsman, who may be removed from office only by impeachment, cannot be charged with disbarment during her incumbency.”