It’s Duterte vs Ombudsman
The Office of the Ombudsman remains unfazed by President Duterte’s threat to create a commission that would probe supposed corruption in the antigraft agency and insisted it would continue its own investigation of the President and his family.
“Sorry, Mr. President, but this office shall not be intimidated,” the agency said in a statement on Friday, adding it would pursue its probe of the supposed ill-gotten wealth of Mr. Duterte and his family.
“The President’s announcement that he intends to create a commission to investigate the Ombudsman appears to have to do with this office’s ongoing investigation into the issues that involve him,” the agency said.
“This office, nonetheless, shall proceed with the probe, as mandated by the Constitution,” the statement added.
Sauce for the goose
After the Ombudsman issued the statement, Mr. Duterte appeared on government television and called on aggrieved government officials to testify about their experience with Ombudsman lawyers.
“Now is the time for you to seek revenge, and I will pin them down,” the President urged government officials who supposedly paid Ombudsman officials to dismiss the cases against them.
Mr. Duterte said he would seek the arrest of Ombudsman officials who would refuse to show up in investigations to be conducted by his proposed commission.
“That’s the only way. That’s not being a dictator. Justice for one, justice for all. Sauce for the gander, sauce for the goose,” he added.
The probe is led by Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang, whom Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales authorized after she inhibited herself from handling the case.
Morales inhibited herself because her nephew, lawyer Manases Carpio, is married to the President’s daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Carandang earlier told the Inquirer that the agency had been quietly investigating Duterte and his family after receiving information from Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
Trillanes claimed the President amassed over a billion pesos worth of unexplained wealth.
Carandang said the probe was based on bank transaction records of Duterte family members purportedly from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
But the AMLC said it had not “provided the Office of the Ombudsman with any report as a consequence of any investigation of subject accounts for any purpose.”
The council confirmed it received a request from Carandang on Sept. 6 to investigate the finances of Mr. Duterte, but the AMLC had not taken action on the request.
“We have yet to evaluate the request, and the initiation of an investigation, as well as the release of any report on the subject will depend on such evaluation,” the AMLC said.
Not the source
“We have categorically stated before that the AMLC is not the source of the documents and information attached by Sen. Antonio F. Trillanes IV in his complaint,” the council said.
“We cannot make further comments considering the confidential nature of the matter,” the AMLC said.
Instead, the council cast doubt on the document attached to Carandang’s letter, saying “the alleged debits and credits representing outflows and inflows of funds were added together, thus, the resulting total amounts are wrong and misleading.”
But the Ombudsman maintained, in its statement, that it stood by the documents it had in its possession.
Nothing to fear
“As to the documents in its possession, the Office stands by its word,” it said. “If the President has nothing to hide, he has nothing to fear.”
In an interview on Tuesday, Carandang declined to show any document he had in his possession.
But when shown the transaction records Trillanes distributed to media, Carandang said “more or less, it has the same details.”
However, Carandang also earlier said that he approved the request of the Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao to obtain an AMLC final report on the Duterte family’s bank transaction records.
He said his office had the bank transaction records but not AMLC’s final investigation report.
Carandang’s admission that he did not have a final investigation report spurred Trillanes to criticize the AMLC for making unnecessary statements instead of completing its report.
“As to the content, the supposed AMLC statement is improper. In its necessity for release and in its tenor, which sounded like the AMLC was defending and absolving Duterte,” Trillanes said.
Instead of issuing unnecessary statements, the council should just expedite its final report on Mr. Duterte’s bank transactions as requested by the Office of the Ombudsman, he said.
“The results of this investigation could now be reported out and be used for a basis of an impeachment complaint,” Trillanes told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
But in an interview aired over government-run PTV 4 on Friday night, Mr. Duterte lashed back at Trillanes and said the senator only wanted to “destabilize the government.”
Mr. Duterte said Trillanes had amassed funds to support such a plot in offshore accounts, including one in DBS of Singapore.
After Trillanes went to Singapore to disprove the existence of a bank account under his name, Mr. Duterte claimed Trillanes closed the account days before the senator went to Singapore to show that the account was nonexistent.
“He terminated it online on Sept. 8, 2017 past 10 p.m., then left for Singapore after that to show his waiver to the bank teller,” he said.
Trillanes flew to Singapore on Sept. 19 to disprove Mr. Duterte’s allegation that he had an account at a DBS branch there.
“Based on analysis, the funds being laundered by Trillanes and his group may not be for their personal use,” Mr. Duterte read from a report that was described as an “intelligence report.”
Instead, the funds were “being used for their cause and possibly to destabilize government by paying for witnesses and funding destabilization operations,” the President said.
Mr. Duterte said the funds came from many parties and “clients,” including large corporations that Trillanes was dunning for funds. —WITH A REPORT FROM AFP
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