PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he would pursue impeachment complaints against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, accusing them of being part of a “conspiracy” to oust him through a probe into his supposed ill-gotten wealth.
“We will file an impeachment case against her (Morales) and I would tend to believe that she was part of the conspiracy, those fabricated papers,” Duterte said, referring to the documents obtained by the Office of the Ombudsman from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) regarding his and his family’s bank accounts.
The President said the Ombudsman “allowed herself to be used” by Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th “to bring this government or this country down to the dogs.”
“She should not have gone there especially if the evidence was illegally obtained. AMLC says they didn’t release it. They washed their hands. So where did they get that? Because the only source is AMLC,” he added.
Duterte said the grounds for impeachment against Morales would be “selective justice” and the “use of falsified documents.”
“She berates people for delay of justice and yet, the Ombudsman is the number one [official]who’s doing selective justice,” he claimed.
Morales’ office has started looking into the wealth of the President and his family, and is coordinating with the AMLC.
Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang maintained that his office had observed “confidentiality” concerning the investigation on Duterte and his family’s alleged unexplained wealth.
He was referring to the complaint that Trillanes filed against Duterte before the Ombudsman before the May 2016 elections.
Trillanes claimed that the former Davao City mayor had more than P2 billion in undeclared wealth in the form of deposits and credits in several bank accounts under his and his family members’ names.
Carandang said bank documents from AMLC showed that the Duterte family had over P1 billion worth of transactions in several banks from 2006 to 2016.
But in a statement issued on Thursday, the AMLC denied providing any bank records to the Ombudsman or Trillanes.
The AMLC also said it had yet to evaluate if there were grounds to initiate an investigation into Duterte’s bank transactions.
Duterte has said he would not submit himself to the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.
He said that even if the supposed bank documents were authentic, these could not be used in court because these were illegally obtained.
He also noted that the computation of his supposed bank transactions was erroneous, which was why they ran into hundreds of millions.
“Sabi ko (I said), ‘In the end, to their sorrow, they would discover that there’s no such things as that amount,’” the President said.
The President also backed efforts to impeach Sereno for alleged corruption, citing the chief justice’s supposed luxurious lifestyle.
He said Sereno was liable for graft for staying in luxury hotels when she travelled abroad, among others.
“Your problem, Sereno, is you are the one who would define yourself and the things that you want in this life. The simple things for you, you bled the government with your attorney’s fees,” Duterte said.
The President was referring to the supposedly exorbitant fees Sereno received from the government as a lawyer in the international arbitration case involving Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which, according to the chief justice’s critics, was not in her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
“I challenge them. Why don’t we go to Congress? The three of us…we will bring the passbook or the statement of the central bank. I will ask for it myself. Then let’s show it there,” Duterte said.
Sauce for the gander
Asked if his move was not tantamount to disrupting checks and balances in the government, Duterte said: “I didn’t start this ruckus.”
“Sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose. You [dismissed a store owner… from the government], so why should they exempt the chief justice?” the President added.
Sereno faces an impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon for alleged corruption, betrayal of public trust, and culpable violations of the Constitution.
The House Committee on Justice will hold a hearing on Thursday to determine the sufficiency of grounds in the impeachment complaint against Sereno.