2 cases filed in Palace vs Ombudsman probers
Office of the Ombudsman officials investigating President Duterte and his family’s bank transactions allegedly amounting to more than a billion pesos are facing possible ouster from the antigraft agency after two administrative complaints were filed against them in Malacañang on Tuesday.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV has claimed that transactions of Mr. Duterte in three banks (two in Metro Manila and one in Davao) from 2006 to 2015 totaled more than P2 billion.
The complaints against officials of the antigraft agency came days after Mr. Duterte challenged Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno — whom he both accused of being corrupt — to step down.
The complainants want Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang, Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Rodolfo Elman and the fact-finding investigation team handling the complaint against the Duterte family to be dismissed from office.
In both cases, Carandang was accused of seeking to destabilize the Duterte administration.
In the first complaint, lawyers Manuelito Luna and Eligio Mallari named Carandang, Elman and the fact-finding team as respondents.
Former lawmakers Glenn Chiong and Jacinto Paras, now a member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), filed the second case but only Carandang was named respondent.
The Office of the President will handle the complaints filed days after Mr. Duterte ranted against the Office of the Ombudsman and Carandang.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Mr. Duterte had no authority under the Constitution to investigate the Ombudsman.
“The President cannot exercise authority and influence over an independent body such as the Ombudsman, more so over a coequal branch of government such as the judiciary. That is how our structure of government is contemplated under the Constitution,” Drilon said in a statement.
Luna and Mallari said Carandang was trying to destabilize the Duterte administration, violating the antigraft law and taking the side of Trillanes, who filed the case against the Dutertes for allegedly amassing undeclared wealth.
They said the Ombudsman official had shown partiality, divulged confidential information and betrayed the public’s trust by “falsely and maliciously claiming” that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) had issued a report on the alleged account deposits of Mr. Duterte.
They cited an ABS-CBN report quoting Carandang as saying he had received data on bank transactions from the AMLC.
In a statement issued on Monday, Carandang said the details in the documents that the senator made public during the 2016 election campaign were “more or less” the same as the bank transaction history records the Office of the Ombudsman had received from the AMLC.
But the official said these records were used by the AMLC and the Ombudsman for intelligence-sharing purposes.
Carandang reiterated that the AMLC had yet to furnish the Ombudsman a copy of its own report on the allegation that Mr. Duterte and members of his family had accumulated unexplained wealth.
He also said the Office of the Ombudsman had always “observed confidentiality” in its investigation of Trillanes’ complaint.
Luna and Mallari said Carandang’s actions were aimed at undermining the integrity of the AMLC and weakening the presidency.
“His disclosures of the inflows and outflows of funds, amounts of the account deposits, nature of the bank deposits, depositors’ names and other details are not benign, but calculated to destabilize the economy, if not the entire government,” they said.
They described Carandang as pro-Trillanes and biased against the President.
“He has indulged in favoritism as well as tyrannically abused his power. If this is not betrayal of public trust, complainants do not know what is,” Luna and Mallari said.
For their part, Paras and Chiong said Carandang committed grave misconduct, gross dishonesty and gross negligence constituting betrayal of public trust when he disclosed details of the President’s supposed bank accounts.
They said the AMLC denial that it had not issued a report on Mr. Duterte’s bank accounts showed that Carandang “was deliberately lying and misrepresenting to the public.”
Paras and Chiong said certain sectors were accusing the President and his children of amassing hidden wealth because Carandang had falsely publicized Mr. Duterte’s alleged bank accounts.
They said the false perception that the President and his family were corrupt might “result in the destabilization of the government as some sectors are already attempting to do.”
As for Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Elman, Luna and Mallari said he conspired with Carandang. Without Elman, Carandang would not have had access to bank records and documents “illegally being kept” by the Field Investigation Unit, Luna and Mallari said.
It was Elman who asked Carandang to request the AMLC to conduct an inquiry into the Dutertes’ bank accounts, they noted.
The fact-finding team should also be dismissed, they said, because “mere possession of the bank records and documents is a crime in itself as well as constitutes gross misconduct.”
Paras said the VACC had prepared an impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Morales, but no lawmaker had been brave enough to take on her.
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