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Morales silent amid Duterte's impeachment threat

This file picture taken on August 23, 2016 shows Philippine Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales gesturing during an interview at the Office of the Ombudsman in Manila. A corruption prosecutor vowed on Sept. 29, 2017 to pursue an investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte's finances despite a veiled warning from the Philippine leader. Noel Celis/AFP
MANILA, Philippines — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales was mum on the threat of President Rodrigo Duterte Wednesday that he would file an impeachment case against her over the alleged illegally obtained documents concerning his and his family's bank transactions.
 
Morales and officials from the ombudsman's Public Information and Media Relations Bureau were not responding to reporters' repeated requests for a statement over Duterte's impeachment threat Wednesday.
 
 
But in a statement issued on Tuesday, Morales said: “I will not be baited into abandoning my constitutional duties. If the president has charges against me, I will answer them in accordance with the law.”
 
“I expect him to answer the charges against him in the same manner. As public officials we have sworn to uphold the rule of law. We should as well, serve with honor, honesty and decency,” she added.
 
In a speech Wednesday, Duterte said he would file an impeachment case against Morales as he believes that “she was part of the conspiracy” regarding the released of what he described as “fabricated papers” concerning his and his family's bank transactions.
 
Just last week, Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang was quoted in newspaper and television reports as saying that he was authorized by Morales to conduct a fact-finding investigation on a complaint filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. The complaint, concerning Duterte and his family's alleged unexplained wealth supposedly hidden in several bank accounts, was filed during the campaign period for the May 2016 elections.
 
Carandang said the deputy ombudsman for Mindanao, who is leading the fact-finding investigation, has already secured several bank documents from the Anti-Money Laundering Council, which also found sufficient grounds to conduct its own probe into Trillanes' complaint.
 
Carandang said the bank documents from AMLC shows that Duterte and his family have over P1 billion worth of transactions in several banks from 2006 to 2016.
 
But in a statement issued on Thursday last week, the AMLC denied providing any bank records to the ombudsman. The AMLC further said it has yet to evaluate if there is ground to initiate an investigation on Duterte's bank transactions.
 
Following the AMLC's statement, Duterte accused the ombudsman of illegally obtaining his and his family's bank records as it did not have any permission from AMLC or a court.
 

Akbayan bestows 'People's Medal of Valor' to ombudsman

Administrative charges of grave misconduct, gross dishonesty and gross negligence constituting betrayal of public trust were filed on Tuesday by former congressmen Jacinto Paras and Glenn Chong against Carandang and several other ombudsman officials in connection with the release of the questionable bank documents.
 
Meanwhile, Akbayan party-list showed its support to Morales Wednesday for continuing the probe into Duterte's alleged hidden wealth.
 
Members of the group trooped in front of the ombudsman's office in Quezon City and held a short program which included a ceremonial conferment to Morales of the “People's Medal of Valor” for her supposed bravery amid “intimidation” by Duterte and his allies.
 
“In a time where people cower in fear to the president's threats, Ombudsman Morales has shown that she will do her duty without fear or favor,” Akbayan Secretary General Kit Melgar said.
 
“The ombudsman is protecting the people from an administration that's killing our democracy. We call for more government leaders like her, ready to defend the people,” he added.
 
Neither Morales nor any official from the ombudsman, however, came out of the office to accept Akbayan's recognition.
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