Exclusive: I will never run for public office — Conchita Carpio Morales

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  • Ombudsman: Some people are 'pulling my leg' to run
  • 6,000 pending cases as of 2017
  • Ombudsman: Successor should have 'industry, independence, and integrity'

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 8) — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has no plans of entering politics after she retires, but admitted some people are convincing her to run for public office.

"Never," she told CNN Philippines' The Source in an exclusive interview on Friday. "Politics is not for me."

Morales added, "Of course, some people are pulling my leg," but declined to give more details.

The feisty outgoing Ombudsman pointed out that the law prevents her from immediately running for public office.

Under the 1987 Constitution, Article XI, Section 11 provides: "The Ombudsman and his Deputies shall serve for a term of seven years without reappointment. They shall not be qualified to run for any office in the election immediately succeeding their cessation from office."

Morales is set to retire at the age of 76 on July 26.

"I'm excited," she said. "My friends tell me, 'If you have waited for almost seven years, why can't you wait for more than a month more?'"

Morales reveals that some colleagues thought she might change her mind about running for an elective post after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad won in this year's polls at the age of 92.

But Morales put her foot down.

"My mind is set. I am not going to run for any public position, under any circumstance," she stressed.

Morales said she was looking forward to retirement although she would miss her staff, some of whom have been with her since her Supreme Court days.

"They'll miss me too, I'm sure. They'll miss my voice [and] my crankiness," she said with a chuckle.

Legacy as Ombudsman

When Morales assumed office in 2011, she inherited about 19,000 cases and vowed to tackle the institution's notorious backlog.  Some 6,000 more cases were filed every year, but she whittled down the backlog to about 6,000 pending cases in 2017.

Asked if she had any frustrations, Morales said she had hoped to complete the cases on the pork barrel scam but time might not allow it.

Other high-profile cases the Ombudsman handled were the graft and plunder charges against former President Macapagal-Arroyo; graft and falsification charges against former Vice President Jejomar Binay; and graft charges against businessman Roberto Ongpin.

Who's next?

Morales declined to comment on her preference for a successor, saying, "I don't know them that much."

Some of the applicants for the post are Duterte's former legal counsel Edna Batacan, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, Sandiganbayan Justice Efren De la Cruz, Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Martires, and Ombudsman Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval.

Morales also shrugged off Duterte's controversial comments that he would not appoint a woman as next ombudsman, and that he would not consult Morales in selecting her successor.

"That's his own opinion. If that is meant to indict me… It's okay. He can indict me," she said.

What concerns her is if the reforms in the anti-corruption institution "will go down the drain."

She said, "I am concerned [whether] they believe the reforms instituted in this office are for the good of the people."

Morales wants the next ombudsman to have the same standard as her.

"I can look at anyone straight in the face [and say]: I have integrity," she stressed.

"I have not done anything below the standard that I want, and the standard that I want is you must have industry, independence and integrity."

Programming note: The Source interview with Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales airs today at 9:00 a.m., with replays at 2:00 and 7:30 p.m.