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Priests, theological teachers oppose Martires' bid for ombudsman post.

A group of priests, pastors and theological teachers on Monday opposed Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Martires' bid for the ombudsman post.

Eighteen signatories sought for the disqualification of Martires as the country's next chief graft-buster, accusing him of lack of probity-one of the Constitutional requirement for members of the judiciary.

They stressed that the refusal of Martires, a sitting associate justice of the high court, to recuse himself from the ruling on the quo warranto petition 'shows his lack of probity.' The said ruling resulted in the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice.

'His patently biased line of questioning during the oral arguments on the connection between 'mental illness' and 'invoking God as the source of personal strength'...also betrays a blatant lack of respect for faith-based communities despite the clear Constitutional guarantee mandating respect for religious freedom which as Justice of the Supreme Court he is bound to observe,' their six-page letter to Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio read.

Carpio currently sits as the Judicial and Bar Council's ex-officio chairperson.

The group recalled Martires' questioning during the oral arguments on the quo warranto that linked the mental health of Sereno, who is a devout Christian, to her religious belief and practice.

'To imply that [Sereno's] religiosity is an indication of mental illness is not based on reasoned rhetoric nor judicial examination because an expert on the matter has to look at other indicators,' they added.

The group also noted that Martires was subject to at least three administrative cases before the Office of the Ombudsman when he was still a Sandiganbayan justice-a post he held before becoming an SC magistrate.

They also stressed that Martires' view that the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. was not dishonorably discharged by the Filipino people is 'disconcerting.' They recalled that Martires believes that Marcos 'opted to leave the Malacanang' and was not ousted through the People Power revolution.

'That a Justice of the SC would insist on this revisionist interpretation of a major historical event shows a failure to meet the standard of probity,' they added.

'All these would besmirch our institutions and would invite discrimination in the highest echelons of our Constitutional government,' the group said.

'We therefore respectfully submit that the Honorable Judicial and Bar Council remain committed to maintaining the very high standard of probity that the Constitution imposes on those desiring to hold the position of Ombudsman,' they stressed.

Martires is set to face the JBC panel on Wednesday for a public interview.

He is vying for the spot of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales whose term will expire on July 26.

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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Date:Jun 18, 2018
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