MANILA, Philippines — Amid legal moves against her office and deputies, which Malacañang said it had nothing do with, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Tuesday declined President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer for her step down with him, dismissing the chief executive’s proposal as just a trap.
“I will not be baited into abandoning my constitutional duties. If the President has charges against me, I am prepared to answer the charges against him in the same manner,” Morales said in a statement issued Tuesday.
“As public officials, we have sworn to uphold the rule of law. We should as well, serve with honor, honesty, and decency,” she added.
Complaints vs Carandang
The same day, two administrative complaints were slapped on overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang before the Office of the Executive Secretary in Malacañang.
The complainants included former Negros Oriental representative Jacinto “Jing” Paras, currently the legal counsel of the Volunteer Against Crime and Corruption, which earlier prepared an impeachment complaint against Morales that failed to fly in the House of Representatives.
The complaints were filed following the Ombudsman’s office’s announcement that it had begun investigating Duterte and his family’s alleged hidden wealth, based on Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s 2016 plunder complaint against the first family and Duterte’s consequent threat that he would create a commission to investigate the “corrupt and partial” Office of the Ombudsman.
The complaint filed by Paras and former Biliran representative Glenn Chong alleges that Carandang had committed “illegal and unlawful disclosure” of “records or bank transactions of the President and his family, which turned out to be falsified and spurious.”
Paras said Carandang had allegedly “deprived” Duterte of a “fair trial” and “due process of law” because he had released to the public information related to the investigation of the complaint against the chief executive, which turned out to be baseless.
Paras: I know Morales is part of plot to oust Duterte
In an interview with reporters on Tuesday, Paras claimed Morales was allegedly a part of a plot to oust the President. Asked what was the basis of his allegation, Paras said, “Because I’m intelligent. I know (how) to detect…”
In the second complaint, lawyers Manuelito Luna and Eligio Mallari also assailed Carandang for prematurely disclosing information related to the Office of the Ombudsman’s investigation into the Duterte family’s wealth.
Luna and Mallari included in their complaint Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Rodolfo Elman and members of the Ombudsman Fact-Finding Investigation Team as defendants.
“They’ve been very irresponsible. They have been spilling lies, fabrications…using the media na dapat magreport lamang ng tamang facts [who should report only the right facts],” Luna told reporters during an interview on Tuesday.
“Eh niloloko nila ‘yong taumbayan natin eh. Sinisiraan ang Presidente [They are fooling the people. They are maligning the President]. To our minds this is an assault…” he added.
Meanwhile, Malacañang distanced itself from the legal moves against officials of the Ombudsman’s office, saying Duterte had no hand in the complaints.
Nonetheless, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella takes a similar position against officials of the Ombudsman’s office investigating the first family.
“What all this confirms is that there is indeed a deliberate effort to discredit the President, mislead the public, and to create popular outrage against the duly elected chief executive. The public’s mind seems to be being set,” he said.
“The Office of the Ombudsman is showing its true political color. We must remind them that it is an independent and anti-graft body that is supposed to conduct an impartial and fair investigation,” added Abella.
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