Malacañang affirms firing of Deputy Ombudsman Carandang

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Malacañang affirmed its firing of Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang, finding him guilty of graft and violating the code of ethics for his conduct during the investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte’s wealth.

Carandang was dismissed by the Office of the President (OP) in August 2017. He filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied by the OP last week, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters on Monday, June 3.

Malacañang affirms its dismissal despite the clear 2014 Gonzales Supreme Court ruling that declared unconstitutional a provision which previously gave presidents the power to discipline a deputy ombudsman.

In August 2017, Ombudsman Samuel Martires – a retired Supreme Court justice – said he had “no choice” but to dismiss Carandang, whom he said would not “take the case all the way up to the Supreme Court.”

“I don’t think he’s that hard-headed,” Martires said on August 6, 2017.

But Carandang has managed to stay put as Overall Deputy Ombudsman since.

Carandang was dismissed because of alleged breach of confidentiality when he made statements on the bank investigation into Duterte's wealth. The investigation has since been terminated, but without prejudice to a reopening should new evidence come to light.

The denial of Carandang’s appeal again puts Martires in the spotlight – will he enforce the dismissal or will he do what his predecessor Conchita Carpio Morales did and stand firm that the Supreme Court ruling renders Carandang untouchable by Malacañang?

The challenge for Carandang is if he takes the case to the Supreme Court, he opens up the possibility for the Gonzales ruling to be reversed. Malacañang top officials have said they are confident of a reversal. 

Martires has not responded to Rappler’s request for comment as of posting time. 

Asked whether Carandang can stay in office while he exhausts his legal remedies, Guevarra said "the decision is appealable to the courts."

"But unless restrained, the dismissal order is immediately executory under rule 43 of the rules of court," added Guevarra. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

image