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Retiring Morales rallies media to

THIS file photo taken on August 23, 2016 shows Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales during an interview at the Office of the Ombudsman in Manila. — AFP

OMBUDSMAN CONCHITA Carpio-Morales, in her farewell press conference Tuesday, advised her office and the media to collaborate in keeping watch on public accountability of the government.

“The Ombudsman and media as entities both discharging watchful functions, should continue to work hand-in-hand in upholding public interest and keeping government resources, systems and personnel less vulnerable to corruption,” Ms. Morales told reporters on the eve of her last day.

Ms. Morales officially steps down as the Ombudsman on July 26.

The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) last week named Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel R. Martires, Ombudsman Special Prosecutor Edilberto G. Sandoval, and private lawyer Felito S. Ramirez as among the nominees for her replacement.

Ms. Morales declined to give her successor a word of advice, saying that the next Ombudsman should be able to determine which cases should be given priority.

Further, Ms. Morales also underscored that it is necessary that the Office of the Ombudsman be granted a retirement package “to prevent exodus.”

“If I were the president, I would right away approve the retirement bill, which has already been forwarded to the Malacañang,” she said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Bill on Ro-Ro ports with Wi-Fi, clean toilets get Senate OK

THE SENATE on Tuesday approved on third and final reading Senate Bill No. 1749, which seeks to provide free Internet access and improve sanitation facilities in land transportation and roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) terminals nationwide. The proposed law also prohibits the collection of fees from passengers for the use of toilets. It was approved with 18 affirmative votes, no negative vote, and zero abstention. “Seventy-nine percent of domestic travelers in 2016 spent around P476 per trip for land transportation. Let us repay them with transport terminals that have clean toilets free of charge, a decent breastfeeding station and free Wi-Fi or Internet,” said Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, primary author and sponsor of the bill, in a statement. — Camille A. Aguinaldo

Duterte attack on rights advocates aimed at diverting attention on ‘abusive’ drug war

HUMAN RIGHTS Watch (HRW) said President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s comments against rights advocates in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday is intended to divert attention away from his “abusive campaign.”

“Duterte’s attack on human rights advocates for being silent on drug dealers is merely an attempt to deflect their criticism of his abusive campaign,” Carlos H. Conde, researcher for the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch (HRW), said in a statement on Tuesday.

The President criticized human rights advocates for not focusing on “drug-lordism, drug dealing and drug pushing.” Mr. Duterte also promised in his SONA that his campaign against drugs will be more “relentless and chilling.”

“(Mr.) Duterte’s promise to relentlessly pursue the war on drugs can only mean more suffering for poor urban Filipinos who account for most of the campaign’s victims. It can only mean the perpetuation of impunity and zero accountability,” HRW said.

The group also urged the International Criminal Court and United Nations Human Rights Council to take this open challenge and ensure that the president and his chief subordinates in the ‘drug war’ are held to account.”

HRW cites that from June 30 2016 to June 30, 2018, some 4,500 were killed due to «awful anti-drug operations, alleging that the suspects fought back during raids by the Philippine National Police (PNP).” It added, “Higher figures were shown to be killed by unidentified assailants throughout the country.”

HRW said their research, along with other human rights organizations, “have shown that police officers and their agents have routinely executed unarmed suspects during these anti-drug operations and, in many instances, planted evidence such as drugs and weapons on the bodies of victims to justify their killing.” — Gillian M. Cortez