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Alejano: Duterte threat to probe ombudsman a desperate move

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano on Friday accused President Rodrigo Duterte of being "desperate" following his threat to have the ombudsman investigated if it would be unfair in handling his case. Composite Photo by Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

MANILA, Philippines — Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano on Friday said President Rodrigo Duterte's plan to create a commission to probe the Office of the Ombudsman was a desperate move.

Alejano said that the president's pronouncement was a clear attempt to threaten and intimidate an independent, constitutional body and to distract the public from the office's probe of Duterte's finances.

"Such is a move only of a desperate man," Alejano said.

"Time and again, he has proven that when faced with an unfavorable situation, he would not directly address it. He, instead, would make another commotion, another 'crisis' to divert the attention of the public away from him," he added.

Alejano said that despite the president's efforts to clear himself by saying all sorts of things, "he still has not signed the waiver to his bank accounts."

The Magdalo congressman said that he wondered before if the appointment of a "buddy" of the president to the Anti-Money Laundering Council would make it follow the "whims" of the administration.

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This statement came after the government agency on Thursday evening denied that it was the source of the report allegedly detailing the president's bank transaction records from 2006 to 2016.

"I think the recent action of AMLC is already giving away the answer," he said.

Alejano also described as "odd" the timing of the release of the AMLC statement, which he said seemed to have been hastily made.

It also had contradictory statements, according to the Magdalo representative.

"However, it is quite odd to note that AMLC issued a statement in the evening, past working hours, and not even with a date and signatory, as if it was made in a hurry," he said.

He added, "Second, according to the statement, an evaluation is yet to be done. However, on the same statement, a conclusion was already given."

On Thursday, the president warned the ombudsman that he would create a commission to look into the alleged corrupt activities in the office if it would be unfair in handling his case stemming from the complaint filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

He also accused some prosecutors in the office of being corrupt and said that they accepted bribes from military and government officials to dismiss cases filed against them.

"'Pag hindi ninyo imbestigahan sarili ninyo, ako mag-set up ng commission  to investigate you  as a president with investigating powers," he said in a televised interview with the public broadcaster PTV-4.

These were all attempts to discredit the ombudsman, according to Alejano.

"Despite these, I pray that Ombudsman would remain steadfast on its mandate of being a vanguard against corruption in government," he said.

The AMLC also denied that it provided Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Carandang with a report showing the transaction records of the alleged Duterte accounts.

Although it noted its receipt of Carandang's request to probe the president's accounts, the AMLC said that it had not yet evaluated and acted on this.

"It (AMLC) has neither provided the Office of the Ombudsman with any report as a consequence of any investigation of subject accounts for any purpose," AMLC said in a statement.

Carandang was quoted as saying that the alleged accounts of the president had millions based on the bank records his office received from the AMLC.

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