Ombudsman to continue probe of Rody over ghost employees
Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - May 20, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman will continue to investigate incoming president Rodrigo Duterte over allegations that he committed plunder in allegedly hiring 11,000 ghost employees in Davao City in 2014.

The results of the investigation could be forwarded to the House of Representatives for impeachment proceedings.  

“If the complaint is meritorious, then like in the case of (former chief justice Renato Corona), he is an impeachable official… The ombudsman will still continue investigating an impeachable official only to determine whether gross or grave misconduct has been committed,” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said in a press briefing yesterday.

“If in the affirmative, then the Office of the Ombudsman will forward its findings to Congress for it to consider initiating impeachment proceedings,” she added.

Morales also said that she is inhibiting from handling cases filed against Duterte and his family.

She revealed that her family is related to the outgoing Davao City mayor’s family.

“The husband of Sara, attorney Mans Reyes Carpio, is the son of my brother, attorney Lucas Carpio and his wife, Court of Appeals Justice Agnes Reyes Carpio,” Morales said.

“In other words, he is the balae (in-law) of my brother,” she said, when asked to elaborate on her relationship to Duterte.

“I have inhibited (before) in cases involving the Dutertes, involving Sara, involving presumptive president-elect Duterte. Even before he became a presumptive president-elect, I have already inhibited in the cases involving them,” she said.

“I think relationship is not a factor in the disposition of cases or in the investigation of cases,” she said. But still, she inhibited herself from handling the Duterte cases.

Plunder case filed by Trillanes 

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV filed a plunder case against Duterte four days before the May 9 elections, accusing Duterte of pocketing public funds totaling P708 million.

The criminal complaint came in the wake of accusations that Duterte has hidden wealth and huge amounts of money in his bank accounts that were undeclared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

The STAR sources said that apart from Trillanes’ complaint, Duterte is also facing five other cases under preliminary investigation by the anti-graft agency’s Field Investigation Unit (FIU) at the ombudsman’s office.

Two of the charges are administrative in nature while three are criminal. They were all initiated motu propio (on its own) by the Office of the Ombudsman this year.

But despite his rather radical and sometimes extreme policy statements, Morales believes that Duterte’s administration will follow the rule of law.

“I know that he, being a lawyer, he will observe the rule of law,” she said when asked about Duterte’s pronouncements on how he will deal with corrupt public officials and criminals. 

Morales said Duterte’s statements to media during the campaign period were what the people apparently wanted to hear, which was why he won by a landslide.

But as to Duterte’s pronouncements that he would execute criminals and throw them in Manila Bay for the fish to grow fat, she said “these are just policy statements. Whether or not the same will be implemented remains to be seen.”

Morales stressed her office is an independent constitutional body that will discharge its mandate with or without the president’s support. 

But considering the incoming president’s pronouncements against graft and corruption, she expressed confidence that the next administration will be supportive of the ombudsman’s work.

“He has been very vocal about fighting corruption. I don’t see any reason why he would renege from his announced plan of running after the corrupt,” Morales said.

She noted that if there would ever be an avalanche of complaints against policemen as soon as Duterte assumes office, then the Office of the Ombudsman would welcome it.

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