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Ombudsman moves to investigate Sara Duterte

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte caught on camera punching Sheriff Abe Duterte
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte caught on camera punching Sheriff Abe Duterte

MANILA, Philippines (July 14, 2011) - The wheels of justice starts to grind for Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte as the Office of Ombudsman ordered yesterday the start of the investigation of her assault on a court sheriff.

Deputy Ombudsman of Mindanao Humphrey Monteroso was assigned to investigate the direct assault charges that the Sheriffs Confederation of the Philippines (SCOPHIL) filed against Duterte.

SCOPHIL took the cudgels for sheriff Abe Andres of the Davao City Regional Trial Court who expressed no desire to sue the mayor and even apologized to her.

Back in July 1 Mayor Duterte was caught on camera punching sheriff Andres who was serving a court order to demolish squatter shanties in Agdao, Davao City. As reported, the mayor's anger was in reaction to Andres' refusal to heed her request for a 2-hour delay in executing the demolition order so she could talk with the affected residents and avoid bloody riot.

Police Officers 2 Dennis Cabudti and Roy Osciones who are assigned as bodyguards of the mayor were seen preventing Andres from going away after receiving initial punches Duterte and holding Andres as the mayor threw more punches at the sheriff's face.

Cabudti and Osciones shall be investigated as well.

Lawyer Rawnsle Lopez, spokesperson for acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro, said probers might ask Andres to execute an affidavit in relation to the incident because he is the offended party in the criminal aspect of the case.

As to the administrative case of grave misconduct against Duterte, the Office of the Ombudsman is giving way to the investigation already being conducted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

SCOPHIL and the Philippine Association of Court Employees (PACE) and Sheriffs Confederation of the Philippines Inc. have sent separate letters to Chief Justice Renato Corona and urged the SC to impose disciplinary action against Mayor Duterte who is also a lawyer.

“The incident demoralized and humiliated the court, hence, respectfully requesting for an immediate resolution to the…incident, otherwise, it would be a precedent to future executions and in the further exercise of duties of the courts,” said lawyer Virginia Coloma, PACE national president.

The group described Duterte’s act as “greater insult to a public servant (Andres) while exercising his duty as executing sheriff.”

PACE chapters in Makati City, Region IV and Region VIII sent their separate letters to the chief justice in support of sheriff Andres.

“Mayor Duterte should be investigated and penalized to restore respect to the employees of the judiciary. We, who are in the honest belief that he was legally executing a court order, should be protected in the performance of his lawful function,” PACE region VIII director Leila Cinco said.

Cinco also demanded a public apology from the mayor to Andres and to the judiciary in general.

SCOPHIL condemned the incident and told the SC that they would seek justice for their colleague.

“Being a local chief executive, she (Duterte) is answerable to the secretary of DILG and to the President. And being a lawyer, she owes fealty to the courts, which is her first duty as an officer thereof,” the group said.

Supreme Court administrator Jose Midas Marquez admitted that the SC has a limited hand on the incident.

Marquez, who has jurisdiction over all trial courts in the country, said the SC may only look into the reported disbarment complaint against Duterte.

“We don’t have jurisdiction over Duterte as a mayor. It was Judge (Emmanuel) Carpio of Davao RTC who issued the writ for execution of demolition, so it should be him who should act on this issue,” he told The STAR.

Marquez had asked Davao City RTC Executive Judge Isaac Robillo to submit a report on the incident.

“My concern as court administrator is the safety and well-being of our court officers, including the sheriffs. We have to make sure that the courts perform their duties and the ruling are served,” he explained. (From, Vox Bikol)