MANILA, Philippines – A former lawmaker and avid supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday defended Malacañang’s move against Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Melchor Carandang, amid Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales’ refusal to enforce the 90-day preventive suspension issued by the Palace against her subordinate.
“The Office of the President (OP) has the power to…investigate and to decide on cases against erring officials…particularly in this case…Klaro ‘yan [That’s clear],” said Jacinto “Jing” Paras, who was recently appointed by Duterte as Department of Labor and Employment undersecretary.
Morales has defied the OP’s order against Carandang, saying the latter’s suspension was “not an inadvertent error but a clear affront to the Supreme Court and an impairment of the constitutionally enshrined independence of the Office of the Ombudsman.”
The Palace slapped Carandang with a 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.
Morales questioned the OP’s move against Carandang, arguing that the high tribunal had “categorically declared unconstitutional the administrative disciplinary jurisdiction of the President over deputy ombudsmen.”
But according to Paras, though the high court issued a ruling related to Carandang’s case, the decision “isn’t doctrinal” and could still be “contested” by the Palace.
“It is the power of the President to discipline public officials,” the former Negros Oriental representative said, adding that the independence of the Ombudsman’s office “is not absolute.”