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Morales retires as Ombudsman

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, one of the few remaining critics of President Duterte in government, retired yesterday, appealing for “strong institutions” over strong leaders.

Morales, 77, finishes her seven-year term during which she earned Duterte’s ire for criticizing his brutal drug war and for her office’s investigation into his alleged secret bank accounts.

Duterte, who accused Morales of “selective justice” and conspiring with opposition figures to oust him, last year threatened to have the retired Supreme Court justice impeached while launching tirades against her.

But a defiant Morales dismissed Duterte’s allegations as “fake news,” saying that his threats never intimidated her from doing her job.

“I know I am right in my own work so why should I be scared,” Morales said. “As long as we have strong institutions, we don’t need strong people to run the government,” she added, emphasizing the importance of independent bodies like her office.

Duterte, 73, has launched an unprecedented crackdown on drugs that has left thousands dead, sparking criticism from rights groups who say he may be orchestrating a crime against humanity.

The Filipino leader has lashed out at critics, including Sen. Leila M. de Lima – jailed over drug charges she says were fabricated – and former Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes P.A. Sereno who was ousted in May.

Opposition leaders have said these moves – along with attempts to discredit the country’s main rights agency – are part of Duterte’s scorched-earth tactics to silence critics and weaken democratic institutions.