Deputy Ombudsman axed over Duterte bank 'deals'

01 February, 2018, 01:14 | Author: Mable Gonzales
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"While silent as to the disciplinary authority over a deputy ombudsman, the subsequent enactment of the Ombudsman Act filled this gap and expressly granted the authority to the President", Calida explained, stressing that the President, being the appointing authority, has the inherent power to discipline a deputy ombudsman.

"The independence of the Office of the Ombudsman has always been established by the Constitution and our Supreme Court", the group said in a statement, citing a 2014 Supreme Court decision. "Only the Ombudsman is impeachable". They are subject to the disciplinary powers of the Chief Executive and this has been decided in the Gonzales case.

The Palace has taken this stance despite a 2014 Supreme Court ruling declaring as unconstitutional a provision in the Ombudsman Act of 1989 granting the Office of the President the power to remove a deputy ombudsman.

In the case of Carandang, Duterte has ordered his suspension for 90 days for making public documents related to the President's bank accounts.

In September 2017, Carandang reported his office had received documents from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) on Duterte's alleged bank transactions totalling $20 million.

Malacañang is keen on implementing the 90-day suspension of Carandang despite questions raised on the power of the President to suspend him.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday challenged Senator Antonio Trillanes to push through with his threat of filing an impeachment complaint against the President.

"If there is prima facie evidence of gross negligence, and much worse, malicious intent, then immediate prosecution is imperative.... suspension from duties is obvious initial action", he added.

In its 2014 ruling, the SC said the law directly collided not only with the independence that the Constitution guarantees to the Office of the Ombudsman, "but inevitably with the principle of checks and balances that the creation of an Ombudsman office seeks to revitalize".

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"He (Carandang) has to be the one to go to court".

"This is an impeachable offense as it violated Section 5 of Article XI of the 1987 Constitution, which clearly states the independence of the Office of the Ombudsman and its Deputies", Trillanes said in a media statement. The AMLC had denied being the "source of the documents" about Duterte's bank accounts.

"It has neither provided the Office of the Ombudsman with any report as a effect of any investigation of subject accounts for any objective", Roque quoted the AMLC as saying. Trillanes had alleged Duterte embezzled government funds and engaged in other illegal activities during his lengthy stint as mayor of the southern city of Davao before becoming president.

"No comment", Morales told reporters at the Senate, where she attended the hearing on proposals to improve the retirement package of employees of the Office of the Ombudsman.

Roque said Carandang was being suspended after two individuals filed an administrative case against him for alleged violations of the country's corruption law. Antonio Trillanes IV said Monday. "Because as far as we are concerned, it's immediately executory", the Palace official added.

Pangilinan said Malacañang's move could be taken as preventing the truth from coming out.

"This appears to be a form of harassment of a government figure who simply wants transparency among officials especially the highest officer of the government", Pangilinan, the president of the opposition Liberal Party, said in Filipino.

"How can anybody be guilty of divulging valuable information that, according to Malacanang, is fake?"

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