MANILA, Philippines – Complaints were filed before the Office of the Executive Secretary in Malacañang on Tuesday, October 3, against Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang for baring details of his agency's investigation into the Duterte family's wealth.
Carandang is facing two sets of administrative complaints – one filed by former lawmakers Jacinto "Jing" Paras and Glenn Chong, and another filed by lawyers Manuelito Luna and Eligio Mallari.
Chong said both complaints were filed at the Office of the Executive Secretary around 11:30 am on Tuesday.
The complaint filed by Paras and Chong revolved around Carandang's allegedly "illegal and unlawful disclosure" of "records or bank transactions of the President and his family, which turned out to be falsified and spurious," according to Paras.
The complaint filed by Luna and Mallari, on the other hand, scored Carandang, Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Rodolfo Elman, and members of the Ombudsman Fact-Finding Investigation Team in Mindanao for disclosing details of their investigation.
"They have been very irresponsible. They have been spilling lies and fabrications using the media," Luna said in an interview with reporters Tuesday.
Paras explained that the Office of the President has authority to investigate the deputy ombudsman and the special prosecutor of the ombudsman under Section 8 of the Ombudsman Act of 1989.
Section 8 of this law states: "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."
Sought for comment, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the Office of the President has yet to read the complaint filed against Carandang. He denied that Duterte has anything to do about the complaint.
Duterte earlier threatened to investigate the Office of the Ombudsman after the agency said bank transactions of Duterte and his family through the years amount to a total of more than P1 billion ($19.63 million). Carandang asserted that he "observed confidentiality" in the ongoing probe into Duterte's allegedly hidden wealth.
In his interview with reporters Tuesday, Luna described the Ombudsman probe as "an assault" on the Office of the President. He said this has no other motive "but to sabotage the economy and the banking sector, and to destroy the presidency."
Paras added that the move of Carandang, an Aquino appointee, seemed part of a "synchronized" attempt to "destabilize this government." To back his claim, he cited the reactions of "destabilizers" like Tindig Pilipinas, which came out a day after Carandang made his disclosure – something expected in a regular news cycle.
"Maybe they want a power grab or whatsoever," Paras said.
He also cast doubt on Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales' statement that she has inhibited from the Duterte family's case. "She's really the one behind all these maneuvers."
"How did you know, sir?" a reporter asked.
"Because I'm intelligent. I know how how to detect what is, uh...," Paras said, as he was cut by another question from the media.
"You know that for a fact, sir?"
Paras replied, "Well, uh, because under our impeachment complaint, we have already pinpointed the selective justice that is going on in the Ombudsman." – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.