Palace warns Carpio at risk of violating legal process for defying order to suspend deputy
Malacanang warned on Wednesday Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales is at risk of violating the legal process if she defies to implement its order suspending Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo issued the statement after Morales said she would not suspend Carandang, citing the 2014 decision of the Supreme Court that the Office of the President has no jurisdiction to discipline the deputy ombudsman for being independent.
"Anyone who disagrees with the suspension are free to question the same before the courts. In the mean time, the suspension should be implemented by the Office of the Ombudsman. Otherwise, its officials risk violating the same legal process that they assume to adhere to," he said in a statement.
Asked if Carpio's refusal to implement suspension is an impeachable act, Panelo said, "It depends. If it is malicious and deliberate, it can be considered a betrayal of the public trust. Otherwise, it may not be."
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated Carandang was given 10 days to file his answer on the ‘Resolution and Order’.
"It is incumbent upon Mr. Carandang to submit his answer within the required period. After the lapse of the period provided, the Office of the President shall decide on the matter," he said.
Carandang received the order on Tuesday.
While the Supreme Court may have previously ruled on the circumstances of Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzales III in 2014, Panelo insisted that the circumstances of Carandang differ.
"It is a basic tenet in law that governmental acts enjoy the presumption of regularity absent the proper legal challenge. Thus, prior to any determination by a court of competent jurisdiction as regards the suspension of ODO Carandang, such suspension should be treated as a lawful and operative act," Panelo said.
The Office of the Executive Secretary has ordered a 90-day suspension of Carandang and he was also administratively charged.
The suspension stemmed from the administrative complaint filed in October last year by lawyers Manolito Luna and Eligio Mallari before the Office of the Executive Secretary against Carandang and other officials of the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly violating Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Law .
Carandang was allegedly "guilty of graft and corruption" under Section 3(e), (k) of RA 3019 for divulging valuable information of a confidential character, referring to the alleged records of the bank transactions of the President from the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
They also accused Carandang of betrayal of public trust for "falsely and maliciously claiming that the AMLC had issued a report regarding the alleged bank transactions of Duterte and for disclosing it in a media interview on September 27 last year.
The ALMC has denied issuing any record of Duterte's bank transactions to the Office of the Ombudsman.
Duterte's supposed bank transactions were used by opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV in filing the complaint before the Ombudsman against the President and some members of his family for allegedly amassing ill gotten wealth.
Panelo said Duterte has no desire or intention to intrude upon the Constitutionally enshrined independence of the Office of the Ombudsman.
"In suspending Overall Deputy Melchor Arthur Carandang, the President is in fact protecting and preserving the Constitutional article on Public Accountability," he said.
Citing Section 1, Article XI of the Constitution, he said, "Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives."
"Thus, the President is just adhering to his mandate to ensure that all laws are faithfully executed, including the Constitution. To be clear, the implementation of check-and-balances in government and the enforcement of public accountability is not incongruent with the respect for Constitutionally guaranteed independence," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS