November 21, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Duterte slams Ombudsman

“DO NOT PLAY God and shut up.”

So went President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday as he criticized Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales for speaking against his way of fighting narcotics and crime.

Mr. Duterte also belittled the Ombudsman’s recommendation to file raps against former president Benigno S. C. Aquino III for the Mamasapano raid of Jan. 25, 2015, adding that the “charges are there to ensure its failure.”

In a profanity-laced speech before his newly appointed officials at Malacañang, a fuming Mr. Duterte hit back at Ms. Morales and told her to “rendahan (control)” her mouth.

He was responding to a television interview with Japan’s NHK World aired last week, where Ms. Carpio-Morales said Mr. Duterte is “goading people to kill people” with his repeated calls for cops and ordinary people to kill criminals who resist arrest.

“Do not be the conscience of the community....Since when did you anoint yourself as the spokesman of the criminals?” Mr. Duterte said of the Ombudsman.

“Ombudsman Morales, find me a law which says I cannot threaten criminals with that. 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 added.

Despite those words, Mr. Duterte also said he was restraining himself because Ms. Morales’s brother is the father of his son-in-law.

Mahiya ka sa sarili mo (Be ashamed of yourself)....Ako nagpipigil ako kasi your brother is my balae (I was keeping my composure because your brother is the father of my son-in-law),” he said.

Hirap na nga ako dito, gusto mo pa mag-Obama ka (I’m already having a hard time [fighting illegal drugs] and yet you want to do an Obama),” the President also said, referring to former US president Barack H. Obama, whom Mr. Duterte called a “son of a bitch” for flagging human rights issues in Mr. Duterte’s drug war.

“If you do not like it, I’m sorry. Kanya-kanya tayong style (To each his own style).”

The Ombudsman is the sister of lawyer Lucas Carpio, Jr., husband of Court of Appeals Justice Agnes Reyes-Carpio. Agnes and Lucas are the parents of Manases “Mans” R. Carpio, husband of presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

In a statement yesterday, Ms. Carpio-Morales’s office advised Mr. Duterte to “review what she said first.”

“Ombudsman Morales is amused by so much ado about something she did not say. However she stands by her answer to the NHK’s question which she says is correct,” the statement read in part.

“She did not say anything about any law against threatening criminals....Beyond this the Ombudsman does not find it necessary to say anything more,” it added.

Mr. Duterte’s drug war has been a hallmark of his three-decade political career.

In the course of the crackdown, thousands of alleged drug traffickers have been killed, with human rights watchers saying many fatalities could be extrajudicial killings committed by cops and vigilantes.

But Mr. Duterte has insisted that the police are only killing in self-defense and gangsters are silencing potential witnesses.

In the same speech yesterday, Mr. Duterte told his critics: “Pinutang-ina ko nga si Obama, kayo pa (If I can call Obama a son of a bitch, how much more you guys)?”

And in a chance interview at Malacañang yesterday afternoon, Mr. Duterte also branded Ms. Morales’s indictment of Mr. Aquino over the deadly Mamasapano encounter in 2015 as “silly.”

“You know... bugok man ’yang rekomendasyon na ’yan,” Mr. Duterte told reporters, adding that Mr. Aquino, as president then, “can call anybody to help him fight a criminal operation.”

Last week, the Ombudsman approved a resolution ordering the filing of raps against Mr. Aquino for usurpation of authority (Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code) and violation of Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).

Named as Mr. Aquino’s “co-conspirators” were former Philippine National Police (PNP) Director-General Alan L. M. Purisima and Director Getulio P. Napeñas of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF), the Ombudsman said.

In its investigation, the Ombudsman said Mr. Aquino was “aware” that Mr. Purisima was under preventive suspension over the anomalous courier deal that the PNP awarded to WERFAST Documentary Agency in 2011, but still allowed Mr. Purisima to participate in the planning of Oplan Exodus, the code name for the deadly raid.

But according to Mr. Duterte, Mr. Aquino “was just asking for the advice from a professional police.”

“He (Purisima) was just being consulted kaya ’yung (that’s why the) charge kay (against) Aquino will fail. ’Yung (The) usurpation, lahat nang (all the) powers doon and all of the offices there participating have all merged into one person, and that is the President,” he added.

“The President is the sole organ of the presidency.”

A predawn encounter between members of the PNP-SAF and Moro fighters in Mamasapano on Jan. 25, 2015 led to the death of 44 cops, 18 Moro fighters and several civilians.

That episode led to the biggest political crisis in Mr. Aquino’s presidency, and effectively derailed a proposed Bangsamoro law -- a product of peace talks between the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that was designed to end decades of conflict.

Mr. Duterte had once said he would revisit the deadly encounter as he questioned Mr. Aquino’s order to send cops into Mamasapano instead of soldiers to capture or kill Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, who had a $5-million bounty on his head.