Duterte, Morales in ‘war of words’

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday told Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales “not to play God  and shut up” after she accused him of encouraging people to kill drug offenders.

In a speech before new presidential appointees at the Palace, Duterte scored Morales for appointing herself as the “spokesman of the criminals” even though she was unaware of the magnitude of the country’s drug problem.

He also insisted there was no law against threatening criminals.

“Do not [be] the conscience of the community. You do not even know that the illegal drug trade has returned,” Duterte said, directing his speech at Morales. 

“Since when did you anoint yourself the spokesman of the criminals? Shut your mouth because there’s a problem. I am really infuriated. Look, [the illegal drug problem] has returned,” he added. 

He also urged Morales, who is related to him by marriage, to be “circumspect.”

“Don’t act like a saint. Do not play God and shut up. I am avoiding confrontations because your brother is the parent of my son-in-law,” Duterte said.

Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Inday Duterte is married to lawyer Mans Carpio, whose father Lucas is the brother of the sitting Ombudsman. 

Carpio-Morales: Much ado…

Reacting to remarks Carpio made to the Japanese broadcaster NHK, Duterte challenged Morales to show him a law that states that he should not issue threats against criminals. 

“Now, Ombudsman Morales, find me a law which says I cannot threaten criminals… Find me a law which would bar me for saying, ‘I will destroy you if you destroy my country.’ Because if you can do that, I will step down tomorrow,” he said. 

In a statement, Morales said she never said it was illegal to threaten criminals.

“Ombudsman Morales is amused by so much ado about something she did not say… Her answer was ‘goading people to kill irrespective of the context is, to me, unacceptable,” her office said.

“The President should review what she [the Ombudsman] said first,” the statement added.

Morales last week said that Duterte’s repeated public calls to kill is “not acceptable” as she accused him of “goading people to kill” with his tough rhetoric against drug pushers and users.

“He’s goading people to kill people. That’s a problem,” Morales said in an interview with Japanese broadcaster NHK. “The directive to kill people under any situation irrespective of the context, to me, that’s not acceptable.”

Morales also dismissed the usual explanations by Duterte’s spokesmen, who said his tough talk was merely hyperbole.

The statement also said Morales stood by her statements to the NHK.

Duterte: Don’t play God, shut up

In the House, an ally of President Duterte said the articles of impeachment against Morales and Vice President Leni Robredo would likely be transmitted directly to the Senate for trial without passing through the committee on justice.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, the committee chairman, said the impeachment complaints that could be filed against the two officials would likely get enough support from lawmakers and not need to pass his panel.

“If 97 or 98 of us [lawmakers] will sign the [complaints], these go directly to the Senate as the Articles of Impeachment. So… it may no longer pass the committee,” Umali said at a news conference.

Under the impeachment rules, an impeachment complaint needs one-third of all members of the House for the complaint to go directly to the Senate for trial.

As soon as formal impeachment complaints are filed either against Robredo and Morales with endorsers, or both, Umali said his panel is duty-bound to act on the impeachment complaints.

“I cannot do anything about it [if impeachment complaint is filed]. The mandate of the House justice committee is compliance.  With a formal endorser and a recital of facts as alleged, I will take charge and the committee on justice will hear it,” said Umali.

Umali also denied any knowledge on the statement of Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles, a nephew of President Duterte and son of former speaker Prospero Nograles, that more impeachment complaints against Robredo are about to be filed next month with an endorser.

The draft impeachment complaints against Robredo by lawyer Oliver Lozano and the group of Bruce Rivera and Trixie Cruz-Angeles have yet to be endorsed by any House member.

But Nograles would not say if he would be the one to endorse the complaints, but said he will surely be among the first to read it if such plans materialize.

“Let us just wait for the next chapter,” Nograles said.

On May 2, Nograles sent Rivera and Angeles away after they presented an impeachment complaint bearing his name as one of the complainants, since it was done without his consent.

Because not one of the 292 House members would endorse it, the pro-Duterte group failed to file the complaint before the office of the House Secretary-General Cesar Pareja.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier threatened to file an impeachment complaint against Robredo for alleged betrayal of public trust for her video message to a United Nations event which showed her talking about extrajudicial killings being linked to President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs. With Rio N. Araja

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