Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima today deplored Malacañang’s unlawful suspension order against Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang for purportedly disclosing the bank transactions of President Duterte and his family.
De Lima, a former justice secretary, said Carandang’s suspension was meant to protect Duterte and his family members from further investigation by Deputy Ombudsman Carandang.
“This is of course convenient for Duterte who continues to hide his ill-gotten wealth and is preventing its exposure by the AMLC [Anti-Money Laundering Council] and the Ombudsman… This is all about protecting the President and hiding his corruption,” she said in a Dispatch from Crame 233.
“Carandang’s suspension only shows that he is hot on the President’s money trail, and that Malacañang has to stop him before he uncovers the whole truth about the President’s ill-gotten wealth,” she added.
The Office of the Executive Secretary has formally charged Carandang with grave misconduct and grave dishonesty for his supposed premature disclosure of “unauthenticated” documents showing the purported multimillion-peso transactions of Duterte’s family.
Carandang, who is now facing a 90-day suspension, was accused of misusing confidential information and disclosing false information, and at the same time releasing them ahead of the authorized release date.
The Senator from Bicol pointed out that the suspension of Carandang is unconstitutional as it clearly violates the 2014 ruling by Supreme Court removing the President’ disciplinary authority over the Deputy Ombudsman.
“Malacañang knows this. Despite this proscription on its power over the Deputy Ombudsman, Malacañang nevertheless proceeded to ignore the Court’s decision when it exercised disciplinary authority over Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang and suspended him,” she said.
De Lima cited the Supreme Court ruling in 2014 which reversed a 2012 ruling affirming the President’s disciplinary powers over the Deputy Ombudsman in the case ofGonzales v. Office of the President.
She explained that in reversing its 2012 decision, the Court said that Section 8 (2) of the Ombudsman Act (Republic Act 6770) granting the President disciplinary authority over the Deputy Ombudsman violates the independence of the Office of the Ombudsman, and is thus unconstitutional.
“The Court decision seeks to prevent the firing of the Deputy Ombudsman by the President when he is investigating the latter,” she said.
De Lima urged the Court to not allow the Ombudsman deputies to be controlled by Malacañang, underscoring the latter’s constitutional mandate as the only public officials empowered by law to investigate the President.
“As if his government’s impunity in the exercise of power is not yet enough, Duterte still seeks to control the Office of the Ombudsman and make himself immune from investigation and accountability. The Supreme Court must not allow this. Otherwise, it might as well crown Duterte and declare him King of the Philippines,” she said.
Carandang is the one leading the investigation into the Duterte family’s alleged ill-gotten wealth after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has inhibited from the case.
In his earlier revelation, Carandang said the Duterte family’s transactions amount to hundreds of millions of pesos from different banks between 2006 until 2016.