Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, the country’s lead fighter against corruption, received this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Award for "for her moral courage and commitment to justice."
The Magsaysay Award for Morales considered Asia’s equivalent to the Nobel Peace Prize cites her “moral courage and commitment to justice in taking head-on one of the most intractable problems in the Philippines; promoting by her example of incorruptibility, diligence, vision and leadership, the highest ethical standards in public service.”
The work of Ombudsman Morales as the Philippines’ lead public prosecutor from 2011-2015 showed a 33.3 percent to 74.5 percent rise in the conviction rate of cases handled by the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) before the Sandiganbayan.
The award recognized the 75-year- old Morales as an inspiring public servant who remains determined to continue her work despite death threats, working within and pushing the law to limits and not sensationalizing her efforts.
The Magsaysay awardee is quoted to set a standard for herself when she said, “The most difficult case to decide is the most fulfilling achievement. However you decide it, you come to a certain point that you think will spell the difference.”
The award which is named after the former Philippine president credits Morales for “radically improving the efficacy and credibility of OMB, and for showing the way towards a more coherent, concerted action against corruption.
In her strict, scrupulous style, she professionalized and upgraded OMB’s capabilities; revolutionized its anti-corruption program to include the designation of deputy ombudsmen for environmental concerns and for investment-related problems; and improved its responsiveness to calls for public assistance. Setting a target of zero backlog in the investigation or adjudication of cases and disposition of all requests for assistance, the backlog has already decreased and she expects to hit the target by 2018. She raised the independence and quality of OMB’s fact-finding investigations, evidence build-up, prosecution strategies and case management to ensure that meritorious cases are not sabotaged, withdrawn, or dismissed.
She prioritized the filing of cases against high-ranking officials, sending the strong signal that OMB is earnest in its anti-corruption campaign. Under her leadership, OMB has boldly imposed strict administrative sanctions on high officials, filing cases against a former president; a former vice-president; incumbent senators, congressmen, and governors. She is the first Ombudsman to use the waiver in the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (required of government officials and employees) as basis to secure bank records in impeaching one of the country’s highest officials.
Recognizing that corruption is not just a matter of persons but systems, she took the initiative in creating an integrity management-based program that mobilizes government agencies and the public and addresses the lack of strategy and direction in the overall anti-corruption campaign.
She advocated the passage of legislation to strengthen the OMB’s investigative, disciplinary, asset recovery, and preventive powers. All these are part of her resolve to go beyond political tokenism by establishing the framework of an effective anti-corruption campaign.”
Morales will formally receive the 2016 Magsaysay award On August 31 along with 5 other recipients which include an Indian grassroots movement leader, emergency aid workers from Laos, a Japanese volunteer group, an Indonesian Muslim philanthropy group, and an Indian musician.