(UPDATE – 10:35 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s legal adviser on Friday denied that the chief executive’s issuance of an order creating an anti-corruption body was prompted by his political dispute with Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
“This executive order has been in the oven for so many months…It has nothing to do with the declaration of the President that he wants this ombudsman impeached,” Salvador Panelo told reporters.
Panelo is referring to Executive Order No. 43 creating the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, which was signed for the President on Oct. 4 by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea. A copy of the EO was made available to the media on Oct. 5.
The day that Medialdea signed the order for Duterte was also the same day when the President said he would lead the move to oust the Ombudsman by filing an impeachment complaint against her because he believed that Morales was part of an conspiracy to expose the allegedly fake documents about the fist family’s supposed hidden wealth.
“(W)e will file an impeachment case against her and I would tend to believe that she was part of the conspiracy, ito…itong fabricated papers ni…[the fabricated papers of],” the chief executive said last Oct. 4, referring to the documents held by Antonio Trillanes IV that allegedly contained information about Duterte and his family’s bank transactions amounting to over P2.2 billion.
The President made the pronouncement of filing an impeachment complaint against Morales after the Ombudsman last Tuesday, Oct. 3, rejected Duterte’s offer for her to step down with him.
On Sept. 28, six days before creating the presidential commission, state-run PTV aired an interview with the President, who said he would set up a commission to investigate the “partial” and “corrupt” office of Morales. Almost a week later, the anti-corruption body was created through EO 43.
“Pag hindi ninyo imbestigahan sarili ninyo, ako ang magset-up ng [If you don’t investigate yourselves, I would be the one setting up a] commission to investigate you as a President with investigating powers,” Duterte said.
The President made the announcement of his plan to create the commission days after the Office of the Ombudsman announced that it was investigating the alleged hidden wealth of Duterte and his family.
On Friday, Oct. 6, Panelo said Malacañang was looking into the possibility of questioning before the Supreme Court the Office of the Ombudsman’s investigation into the wealth of the Duterte family.
“The subject matter of investigation are acts allegedly committed by this President when he was mayor so how can you, how can you do that?…How can there be an abuse with respect to the acts committed by the then mayor? Wala [Nothing]. Hindi naman abuse of power as president eh [It’s not an abuse of power as president],” said Panelo.
Last Thursday night, Duterte reiterated his offer for Morales to step down with him.
“I dare you, we do that. Hinahamon ko kayo [I am challenging you]. If you are really honest. Tutal you have been there for several years, including me. Why don’t we just resign?” the President said.
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