President’s allies to lodge complaints vs Ombudsman officials over wealth probe

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Supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte are seeking the ouster of officials from the Office of the Ombudsman whom they accused of alleged unlawful disclosure of bank transaction records of the Chief Executive and his family.

Lawyers Manuelito Luna, Eligio Mallari and former lawmaker Jacinto Paras made the call in two administrative complaints lodged against Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang, Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Rodolfo Elman and members of the fact-finding Investigation Team/Field Investigation Unit of the Office off the Ombudsman-Mindanao that will be filed before the Office of the President today, Tuesday.

The complainants argued that Carandang’s disclosure of the details of the bank transaction records of President Duterte and his family violated the Bank Secrecy Law.

Carandang was quoted in reports confirming that the Ombudsman’s office “received the bank transactions coming from AMLC” and that the Ombudsman’s office was in possession of bank transaction records of the President and his family, which “could reach [up to]P200 million.”


AMLC is the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

“Carandang has been very reckless. He even said that the entries [of bank transactions presented to him by the media and those that he is in possession of]are the same. The mere possession of [records of]bank transactions and bank accounts is already a criminal offense under Bank Secrecy Law,” Luna, one of the public prosecutors tapped by then president Benigno Aquino 3rd’s congressional allies to prosecute then Chief Justice Renato Corona, said in a chance interview.

“The mere disclosure [of those information]also, is also a crime. His act constitutes an act of graft and corruption and betrayal of public trust. These people have been very irresponsible. This is an affront to the President. They are motivated to sabotage the economy, the banking sector and destroy the [Duterte] Presidency,” Luna said.

Under the Ombudsman Law, the sitting President can remove a Deputy, or the Special Prosecutor, from office if found guilty for treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, and betrayal of public trust—after due process.

The Ombudsman Law also states that the Office of the Ombudsman has the power to “investigate and prosecute on its own or on complaint by any person, any act or omission of any public officer or employee, office or agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient.”

The ongoing investigation on the wealth of President Duterte and his family stemmed from the P2.4 billion plunder complaint filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th against then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte on May 5, 2016. This was before the May 9 national elections, which Duterte won.

President Duterte, who said he would not subject himself to the Ombudsman’s investigation due to the presence of corrupt Ombudsman investigators and officials, is immune from suit until his term expires on June 30, 2022.  LLANESCA T. PANTI

 

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