WHAT WENT BEFORE: Probe of Duterte’s alleged ill-gotten wealth
Acting on a complaint of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, the Office of the Ombudsman began a probe of President Duterte’s supposed ill-gotten wealth in September 2017.
Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang said on Sept. 12, 2017, his office had approved the request of the Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao to obtain the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) final report on the Duterte family’s bank transaction records when the President was still the mayor of Davao City.
Then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said she had authorized Carandang to “handle the cases involving” the family. She inhibited herself from acting on any case filed against them as Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte is married to her nephew.
Morales retired last week.
Carandang confirmed to reporters that his office had received the bank transaction records of Mr. Duterte and his family from the AMLC.
But the council, on Sept. 28 last year, 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 AMLC confirmed that it received a request from Carandang last Sept. 6 to investigate the finances of Mr. Duterte but had not taken action on the request.
Last Oct. 2, the President said the allegations against him were “fabricated and the evidence illegally obtained” by Carandang.
Mr. Duterte also said he would have the National Bureau of Investigation look into alleged corruption in the Office of the Ombudsman and have Carandang summoned for investigation.
Last Oct. 3, two administrative cases were filed in Malacañang against Carandang, Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Rodolfo Elman, and the fact-finding team handling the complaint against the Duterte family, seeking their dismissal.
In both cases, Carandang was accused of seeking to destabilize the Duterte administration.
On Jan. 29, Malacañang suspended Carandang for 90 days for grave misconduct and other administrative offenses after he disclosed alleged bank records of Mr. Duterte.
This led to a clash between the Office of the Ombudsman and the Palace, with Morales saying she would “not enforce” what she called Malacañang’s “patently unconstitutional” action.
Morales denounced the Palace move as a “clear affront” to her office and the Supreme Court. Suspending Carandang, she said, violated a Supreme Court ruling in 2014 that stated as unconstitutional a provision in the Ombudsman law giving the President power to discipline the deputies of the Ombudsman.
On Feb. 13, Solicitor General Jose Calida said the Trillanes complaint had been “closed and terminated” since Nov. 29, 2017, but learned about it only on the day before through a letter from Carandang.
“The recommendation to terminate the investigation was approved by Deputy Ombudsman Cyril E. Ramos on [Nov. 29], 2017,” Calida said, quoting from the letter.
In May 2018, the Ombudsman initiated its own investigation of Carandang and Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Paul Elmer Clemente. Morales said this was meant to assert the Ombudsman’s disciplinary powers over its own officials, rejecting the claim of jurisdiction by the Office of the President over the complaints brought against the two officials.
Carandang was appointed Overall Deputy Ombudsman in October 2013. —INQUIRER RESEARCH
SOURCE: INQUIRER ARCHIVES
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