Carandang to appeal Malacañang dismissal

MANILA, Philippines – Overall Deputy Ombudsman (ODO) Melchor Arthur Carandang said on Monday, August 6, he will file a Motion for Reconsideration (MR) in Malacañang to appeal its earlier order dismissing him.

Carandang confirmed this to lawmakers hearing the Office of the Ombudsman’s budget at the House of Representatives.

A 2014 Supreme Court ruling that declared unconstitutional a provision that previously gave presidents the power to discipline a deputy ombudsman disputes the Malacañang order.

"I have already raised the issue of jurisdiction with the Office of the President and I will raise the same in my motion for reconsideration," Carandang said.

Carandang refused to grant an interview to reporters after the hearing. (READ: The Carandang conflict: Threat to checks and balances)

Martires' position 

Ombudsman Samuel Martires, for his part, stuck to his stance that if Malacañang denies Carandang’s appeal, then he will have “no choice” but to dismiss him.

Martires cited Administrative Order (AO) No. 7 which states that administrative decisions are final and executory, and that an appeal cannot stop it from being so.

Carandang has the option to raise the case to the Court of Appeals, and all the way to the Supreme Court, but according to Martires, AO No. 7 requires the enforcement of the dismissal.

ACT-Teachers Partylist Antonio Tinio noted that former ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales was more firm in protecting the Office when she defied the order, citing lack of jurisdiction.

Tinio told Martires: “Medyo nababahala ako. The mere fact na inatasan niyo ang ODO [na mag-file ng MR] tila tinanggap niyo ang jurisdiction ng Malacañang sa inyong ODO na eh, wala na pong legal basis.”

(I’m a little bit concerned. The mere fact that you told your ODO to file an MR, it’s like you accepted that Malacañang has jurisdiction over your ODO, which doesn’t have a legal basis.)

Martires clarified that he did not tell Carandang to do anything, adding that Carandang is a lawyer who knows what he should do.

But in an interview earlier on Monday, Martires said he doesn’t think Carandang will fight the case and bring it all the way up to the Supreme Court.

“Once ODO Carandang goes to the Court of Appeals, I think he knows that immediately he has to leave the office, I don’t have to implement the decision of Malacañang,” Martires said.

He added:I don’t think he’s that hard-headed, I see him as a very reasonable guy.” 

Carandang was dismissed because of alleged breach of confidentiality, and even graft, when he made statements on the bank investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte's wealth. The investigation has since been terminated.

Carandang has been subjected to an internal investigation through the Ombudsman's Internal Affairs Board (IAB). If the IAB finds Carandang liable for the same offenses that Malacañang is accusing him of, there are no legal hindrances to Martires dismissing Carandang himself.

Martires refused to talk about the IAB proceedings, claiming he's not aware of them.

"I am not aware of any investigation conducted on ODO Carandang. Sa inyo ko lang naririnig lahat 'yun (I'm only hearing about this from you). I am not aware. I haven't talked to ODO Carandang about these things," Martires said.

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 or tweet @lianbuan.