Trillanes: Suspension of Carandang, man heading Duterte wealth probe, 'impeachable'

Audrey Morallo - Philstar.com
Trillanes: Suspension of Carandang, man heading Duterte wealth probe, 'impeachable'

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said that the suspension of Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Carandang, the man leadign the Duterte wealth probe, was "impeachable" and "bully tactic." AFP/Noel Celis, File

MANILA, Philippines — The preventive suspension and the filing of charges against Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Carandang following his alleged disclosure of confidential information on the contents of the supposed bank accounts of President Rodrigo Duterte are an impeachable offense and a bully tactic of the administration, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said Monday.

Malacañang formally charged Carandang for his premature disclosure of "unauthenticated" documents allegedly detailing the multimillion bank transactions of Duterte and his family.

According to Harry Roque, a spokesperson for the president's office, the Office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea formally charged Carandang for grave misconduct and grave dishonesty for misuse of confidential information and disclosure of false information on the Duterte family's bank transactions.

Roque added that Carandang would be placed under a 90-day preventive suspension effective upon receipt of the order pursuant to the complaint filed by Manolito Luna and Elijio Mallari.

The president's spokesperson said that the complaint was based on the statement of Carandang confirming receipt of bank transactions from the Anti-Money Laundering Council, documents the council denied providing the deputy ombudsman.

However, Trillanes, who pounded Duterte last year on his multimillion-peso bank accounts, said that the charge against the Deputy Ombudsman was just a "Duterte tactic" to bully "democratic institutions into submission," so he could continue with his "dictatorial and corrupt ways."

"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.

"Clearly, this is another Duterte tactic that's meant to bully democratic institutions into submission so he could go on with his dictatorial and corrupt ways," he added, stressing that the Supreme Court has already ruled on this.

According to Roque, the Supreme Court, through its decision in the case Emilio Gonzales III v. Office of the President with G.R. 196231 on Sept. 4, 2012, recognizes that Deputy Ombudsmen are subject to the removal of the president.

When asked if the decision was not reversed in a decision in 2013, Roque said, "No it cannot be. Only the Ombudsman is impeachable."

Roque said that that the 2013 decision could be based on merits and not on jurisdiction, emphasizing that the Office of the President is the office responsible for making deputy ombudsmen liable.

According to Section 8(2) of Republic Act 6770 or the Ombudsman Act of 1989, "a Deputy or the Special Prosecutor, may be removed from office by the President for any of the grounds provided for the removal of the Ombudsman, and after due process."

However, the decision cited by Roque declared Section 8(2) as "unconstitutional" for granting disciplinary jurisdiction to the president over a deputy ombudsman, a provision that violates the independence of the anti-graft office.

"We declared Section 8(2) of RA No. 6770 unconstitutional by granting disciplinary jurisdiction to the President over a Deputy Ombudsman, in violation of the independence of the Office of the Ombudsman," Gonzales vs OP said.

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