(UPDATED – 12:47 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s office has slapped Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang with a 90-day preventive suspension order for allegedly committing grave misconduct and grave dishonesty.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced this to media on Monday, January 29, explaining that the Office of the President (OP)’s move against Carandang had something to do with the information that he had released last year to the media about Duterte’s alleged bank accounts.
The bank documents allegedly came from the Anti-Money Laundering Council but the AMLC denied that the information came from the agency.
Carandang was given by the OP 10 days to explain why he should not be suspended.
Last September, Carandang was quoted in news reports as saying that the Ombudsman’s office had secured from the AMLC copies of Duterte and his family’s bank transaction records. He also said that based on documents from the AMLC, the President and his relatives’ bank transactions through the years amounted to over P1 billion.
But the AMLC said that while Carandang had requested the agency through a Sept. 6 letter to look into the bank records of the the first family, the council said that, “We have yet to evaluate the request, and the initiation of an investigation as well as the release of any report on the subject will depend on such evaluation.”
Also it that the council “is not the source of the documents and information attached by” Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV in his complaint against Duterte.
Days before last year’s national elections, Trillanes, then a vice presidential bet, filed a plunder complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against then presidential candidate Duterte, alleging that he had P2.4 billion worth of bank transactions.
Trillanes claimed Duterte could have amassed his alleged hidden wealth from hiring thousands of Davao City ghost employees.
He cited in his complaint the Commission on Audit’s 2015 report that there were 11,246 contractual workers in 2014, who were paid a total of P708 million and assigned to the office of the Davao mayor. The COA raised concern over the absence of documents proving that the said workers were actually performing their jobs.