Sen. Leila De Lima
(File photo by LYN RILLON / Philippine Daily Inquier)
The suspension of deputy Ombudsman for making public President Rodrigo Duterte’s bank records was done by Malacañang to stop him from investigating the President’s alleged hidden wealth, at least for detained Senator Leila de Lima.
Defying a 2014 Supreme Court (SC) order, Malacañang on Monday preventively suspended Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang for releasing the documents related to Duterte’s bank accounts.
READ: Ombudsman exec suspended over release of Duterte’s alleged bank transactions
“Carandang’s suspension only shows that he is hot on the President’s money trail, and that Malacañang has to stop him before he uncovers the whole truth about the President’s [alleged] ill-gotten wealth,” De Lima said in her latest dispatch from detention at Camp Crame.
“This is all about protecting the President and hiding his corruption. And Malacañang has no qualms defying the Court’s 2014 ruling to do this,” she said.
The former Justice secretary chided Malacañang for deliberately ignoring the high tribunal’s ruling despite it being aware of that presidential authority over the deputy ombudsman had already been declared unconstitutional.
“As if his government’s impunity in the exercise of power is not yet enough, Duterte still seeks to control the Office of the Ombudsman and make himself immune from investigation and accountability,” De Lima said.
Malacañang on Monday suspended for 90 days Carandang for grave misconduct and other administrative offenses after he disclosed alleged bank records of Duterte.
However, Malacañang said it had the power to discipline Carandang.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace was confident that the SC would “revisit” its decision in 2014 that the Office of the President (OP) had “no power of discipline over the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman.”
De Lima explained that the rationale of the SC in issuing such ruling was precisely to protect the independence of the deputy ombudsman from the President’s control and influence in the event that the subject of the investigation is none other than the Chief Executive himself.
“Malacañang’s action in suspending Carandang for investigating the President is the most illustrative lesson on why the 2014 Court decision is correct,” she said.
“Giving the President disciplinary authority over the person empowered to investigate him engenders conflict of interest scenarios, like the present one. In this case, in order to protect himself and his family from further investigation by the Deputy Ombudsman, Duterte orders his suspension,” De Lima added.
De Lima then urged the SC, whose Chief Justice is facing possible impeachment, not to allow Malacañang’s defiance of the ruling.
“The Supreme Court must not allow this. Otherwise, it might as well crown Duterte and declare him King of the Philippines,” she said. /jpv