Suspension order will curtail Ombudsman’s power – De Lima
Allowing Malacañang to suspend Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang will curtail the of the Ombudsman as the only public official authorized by law to investigate the President, detained opposition Sen. Leila de Lima warned the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The Palace issued a preventive suspension order against Carandang on Monday for releasing documents related to Mr. Duterte’s bank accounts.
Carandang has started investigating the President’s and his family’s alleged unexplained wealth based on a complaint filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
He had said the Office of the Ombudsman received bank transaction records on the Dutertes’ supposed bank accounts from the Anti-Money Laundering Council. But the AMLC denied that it had issued a report on the bank accounts of the family.
De Lima said the suspension order indicated that Carandang was “hot on President Duterte’s money trail” and that Malacañang had to stop him before he uncovered the truth.
Supreme Court 2014 ruling
“This is all about protecting the President and hiding his corruption. Malacañang has no qualms defying the court’s 2014 ruling to do this,” said the senator, one of Mr. Duterte’s fiercest critics who is now detained on drug charges based on testimonies of drug convicts.
De Lima cited a high court ruling three years ago that reversed a 2012 decision affirming the President’s disciplinary powers over the Deputy Ombudsman.
In reversing its 2012 decision on the case of Gonzales v. Office of the President, the high court said that granting the President disciplinary authority over the official violated the independence of the antigraft body and was therefore unconstitutional.
“Malacañang’s action in suspending Carandang for investigating the President is the most illustrative lesson on why the 2014 court decision is correct,” De Lima said.
“Giving the President disciplinary authority over the person empowered to investigate him engenders conflict of interest scenarios,” she added.
On Tuesday, opposition senators Bam Aquino, Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan issued a joint statement questioning Malacañang’s suspension order.
They said the order could be an attempt to stop Carandang from further disclosing the truth.
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