The Court of Appeals (CA) has denied the petition of dismissed overall deputy ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang, who questioned the decision of the Office of the President (OP) ordering his removal.
The CA did not issue a temporary restraining order by Carandang and, instead, ordered the Office of the Ombudsman to file its comment on the petition as requested by Carandang.
The case went to CA Second Division Justice Ronaldo Roberto Martin and members Fernand Lampas Peralta and Danton Bueser.
It was originally lodged with Martin as ponente, with Justices Ramon Bato and Ramon Cruz as members.
The case, however, moved because of the reorganization of the appellate court in view of the retirement of CA Presiding Justice Romeo Barza.
In a 33-page petition for review, Carandang argued that Malacañang erred when it dismissed him in July last year for alleged betrayal of public trust and graft and corruption after he disclosed documents purportedly detailing President Rodrigo Duterte’s hidden wealth.
According to him, Duterte’s office resolved the complaints filed by lawyers Manuelito Luna, Eligio Mallari, Jacinto Paras and Glen Chong against him without a reply from the private complainants.
At the time, the Ombudsman started investigating the complaint from Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th that the President and his family’s bank transactions from 2006 to 2015 totaled more than P2 billion, prompting the complainants to file their separate cases against Carandang before the Office of the President.
Duterte’s office fired Carandang and junked his plea, pushing him to seek redress before the appellate court.
In his plea, Carandang said the President had no administrative disciplinary jurisdiction over the overall deputy ombudsman.
He pointed out that “the Casimiro case cited by the OP in asserting its disciplinary authority over a deputy Ombudsman is misplaced.”
Carandang was referring to the case of former overall deputy ombudsman Orlando Casimiro, who was also fired by the OP during the administration of then-President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
“The Casimiro case, while promulgated recently… in comparison to the Gonzales case, could not be considered in prevailing case law on the matter of the President’s authority to discipline a deputy ombudsman,” he said.
Carandang was dismissed from government service and his retirement benefits were forfeited.
He was sacked for committing a breach of his duty to protect confidential information because of his public statements that stemmed from a media interview in which he said that the Office of the Ombudsman had records from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) of the bank transactions of the President and his family.
Carandang said his office had received the bank records, but not the AMLC’s final investigation report.
He explained that his office and the AMLC were sharing information on flagged bank transactions after entering into a memorandum of agreement.
Carandang was earlier suspended for 90 days, but then-Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales defied the order, citing a Supreme Court ruling that states the President cannot discipline officials of constitutional bodies.