2 solons say Duterte probing, arresting Ombudsman execs could be unconstitutional
Creating a commission that would investigate the alleged corrupt activities at the Office of the Ombudsman and ordering the arrest of its officials may run against the Constitution, two lawmakers warned on Saturday.
In separate statements sent to INQUIRER.net, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the Ombudsman, an independent constitutional body, must be free from political pressures, especially from the President.
“Creating a commission to investigate the Ombudsman might run against the Constitution, and thus, ordering the police and military to arrest concerned Ombudsman officials is also unconstitutional,” Alejano said.
“I submit that it is constitutionally doubtful if in fact a president has such power to create a commission just to investigate the Office of the Ombudsman,” Zarate said.
Zarate, a lawyer, warned that ordering the arrest of officials without a “validly issued court warrant or presence of a ground for a valid warrantless arrest under the law and jurisprudence is also highly questionable.”
President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said he would order the arrest of Ombudsman officials who would refuse to cooperate on the investigation of his proposed commission that would look into the alleged corruption in the agency.
Alejano said the President’s order was clearly a move to intimidate the Ombudsman from proceeding with the investigation into the alleged unexplained wealth of the Duterte family.
“Galit siya sa korupsiyon pero nagtatago naman sa legalidad at pananakot (He is mad against corruption but he is hiding behind legalities and threats),” he said.
Alejano called on the police and military to stick to their mandates as enshrined in the Constitution and “must not allow themselves to be used as personal or private army to the President.”
ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio, for his part, said Duterte’s threat—as well as the attempts to defund the Commission on Human Rights and impeach the Chief Justice—was meant to undermine the independence of Constitutional bodies that exist to curb the “abuse of executive power.”
“President Duterte is shamelessly using the powers of his office to harass and intimidate the Office of the Ombudsman, in an attempt to dissuade them from pursuing an investigation into the wealth acquired by him and his family,” he added.
Led by Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang, the Ombudsman silently initiated a probe into Duterte and his family’s alleged unexplained wealth after receiving information from Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
Carandang earlier said that the investigation was based on bank transaction records provided by the Anti-Money Laundering Council. /jpv
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