{Statement] ALG denounces President Duterte’s brazen attacks against the offices of the Chief Justice and the Ombudsman

THE ALTERNATIVE LAW GROUPS (ALG) DENOUNCES PRESIDENT DUTERTE’S BRAZEN ATTACKS AGAINST THE OFFICES OF THE CHIEF JUSTICE AND THE OMBUDSMAN,AND URGES CONGRESS TO BE CIRCUMSPECT AND TO BOLSTER OUR SYSTEM OF CHECKS AND BALANCES

We, the Alternative Law Groups (ALG), denounce the brazen assaults against democratic institutions of President Rodrigo Duterte, which undermine the independent bodies mandated by the constitution to maintain the system of checks and balances in the government.

Last August 30, an impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was filed in the House of Representatives and was endorsed by 25 representatives. Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, a known ally of the president, filed the complaint.

The president has echoed the complaint’s allegations of corruption against Sereno in his recent speeches and interviews, and has even threatened to file a new impeachment complaint against her. The president’s latest tirades include attacks against the Office of the Ombudsman as it conducts its probe into his alleged ill-gotten wealth amounting to billions of pesos.

His threat of impeachment against the Ombudsman, his attacks against Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang, his announcement of his intentions to create a commission that will investigate their Office, his threats to arrest those who will not attend hearings of the said commission, and his refusal to submit himself to the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman, are clear signs that these are counter-attacks to intimidate the Office that is probing his wealth.

The 1987 Constitution puts impeachment as a mechanism to make top officials accountable. However, in this case, it is apparent that the attacks and threats of impeachment against the Chief Justice and the Ombudsman come directly from the top official himself, President Duterte.

These acts deliberately undermine the independence of the institutions whose duties primarily consist in upholding public trust by cleansing the government’s ranks of graft and corruption and maintaining checks and balances so that tyranny would not arise from any branch of the government again.

We stand with these institutions not because of the people who are associated with them but because they are the remaining safeguards towards a balanced and just government free from corruption and despotism.

If the president, the Chief Justice, and the Ombudsman are beholden to anyone, it is to the Filipino people alone.

Let all of them answer to charges against them in accordance with the law. The Chief Justice had done that, the Ombudsman stated that she will, while the president still continues to engage with word war and refuses to submit himself to investigation.

We reiterate the Ombudsman’s statement that, if the president has nothing to hide, he has nothing to fear.

Having a history of politically charged impeachment trials in the past, we demand nothing but a fair and balanced procedure guided by the rule of law.

The members of the House of Representatives and the Senate must remember that Filipinos hold democracy dear to them. The Filipino people count on them to be circumspect in accordance with their sworn duties and to heed the public outcry in bolstering our governmental system of checks and balances.

We call on the media and civil society to intensify their vigilance, lead the people, and be the vanguards of truth and knowledge in these trying times.

We must always remember that an informed and empowered public, equipped with the truth and social consciousness, is still more powerful than the most brilliant political player and a barrel of a gun.

ALTERNATIVE LAW GROUPS (ALG)
Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC)
Balay Alternative Legal Advocates for Development in Mindanaw (BALAOD-MINDANAW)
Children’s Legal Bureau (CLB)
Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC)
EnGendeRights
Educational Research and Development Assistance Foundation (ERDA)
Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation (HLAF)
Human Rights Unlimited (HRU)
Kaisahan Tungo sa Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan (KAISAHAN)
Kanlungan Center Foundation
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan (LRC-KSK)
Paglilingkod Batas Pangkapatiran Foundation, Inc. (PBPF)
Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC)
Participatory Research Organization of Communities and Education Towards Struggle
for Self-Reliance (PROCESS-PANAY)
Rainbow Rights (R-Rights) Project
Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN)
Tanggapang Panligal ng Katutubong Pilipino (PANLIPI)
Tanggol Kalikasan (TK)
Tebtebba Indigenous Peoples’ International Center for Policy Research and Education
Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB)

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