Morales: Paolo Duterte is under probe for various complaints
Former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte is under investigation for various complaints, including one concerning alleged unexplained wealth, according to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.
“Oh, I think it’s pending,” Morales said, when an audience member asked about cases against the First Family during a forum held by the Ombudsman and the International Development Law Organization on Tuesday night.
On the sidelines of the forum, she told reporters: “They [subordinates] say it’s the vice mayor.”
Morales was referring to Paolo, whose resignation was accepted by his father, President Rodrigo Duterte, in January amid allegations that he was part of the so-called Davao Group that facilitated the release of imported goods at the Bureau of Customs for a fee.
Paolo denied the accusation.
Morales’ disclosure means there are cases that have advanced further than the case involving the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of “shabu” (crystal meth).
Paolo was cleared in that case due to a “lack of basis.” Former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and several others, however, still have to answer the allegations at the preliminary investigation stage.
Paolo did not reply to the Inquirer request for a statement on Morales’ announcement that he has pending cases in the Office of the Ombudsman.
But in a Facebook post, Paolo hit Rappler for supposedly recycling issues. “Sigh Laffler, are you recycling issues? Is it because I cast a spell on Entonyow?” he wrote, apparently referring to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
Trillanes has accused Paolo of being a member of a Chinese drug triad and of keeping huge bank deposits.
Mum on details
Morales did not divulge details regarding Paolo’s cases that did make it to preliminary investigation, the stage in which formal allegations are made and the respondent is allowed to air his side.
She said Ombudsman officials no longer furnished her updates through routine action papers, because she had inhibited from cases involving the Duterte family.
Morales is related to the President by affinity. Her nephew, Manases Carpio, is the husband of Davao City Mayor Sara, a daughter of the President.
Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang likewise inhibited himself from Paolo’s cases, Morales said.
This led to the case being raffled to one of the Ombudsman’s deputies, although she refused to specify which office was involved.
“I do not want to get involved so there would be no more tantrums,” she said, alluding to antics by the President, who had threatened to have Morales impeached.
Forfeiture, graft, perjury
A list obtained by reporters showed that as of Jan. 12, 2018, there were five pending cases against Paolo in the preliminary investigation stage, all of which were filed in 2016.
One is a forfeiture complaint, docketed OMB-C-F-16-0019, regarding alleged unexplained wealth disproportionate to the declared lawful income.
This is pursuant to Republic Act No. 1379, which forfeits in favor of the government “any property found to have been unlawfully acquired” by public officials.
Two of the cases are criminal complaints for graft and perjury, and another two are administrative complaints seeking Paolo’s lifetime ban from public office.
The criminal complaints were docketed as OMB-C-C-16-0081 for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and OMB-C-C-16-0082 for graft and perjury in violation of Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code.
The administrative complaints were captioned as OMB-C-A-16-0073 for violation of Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and OMB-C-A-16-0074 for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, grave misconduct, and serious dishonesty.
The document did not state whether all these offenses related to issues arising from a single complaint.
The only complaint against Paolo that was made known to the public in 2016 was the one filed by confessed Davao hit man Edgar Matobato, who was previously employed by the mayor’s office.
Morales said in an Aug. 31 interview that a “preliminary investigation has [been] set” on the complaint. On Wednesday, Matobato’s lawyer Jude Sabio said it was still ongoing.
Matobato claimed in his Dec. 9, 2016, complaint that he was a member of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS).
The DDS was allegedly responsible for the killing of more than a thousand criminals and was allegedly “created and led” by the President when he was the mayor of Davao City.
In the same complaint, Matobato claimed that Paolo “controlled the smuggling in Davao City” alongside another confessed assassin, retired policeman Arturo Lascañas.
The President himself was named a respondent, but he was dropped during the fact-finding investigation, the evidence-gathering stage that precedes the preliminary investigation.
While Mr. Duterte previously railed against the Ombudsman in response to its investigations, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque issued a less heated response this time.
“We see this as part of the Ombudsman’s constitutional mandate to ensure public accountability,” Roque said in a statement on Wednesday. —WITH REPORTS FROM CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO AND ALLAN NAWAL
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