The President can remove Carandang

If Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales refuses to suspend Overall Deputy Ombudsman, Melchor Arthur Carandang, “for falsely and maliciously claiming that the Anti-Money Laundering Council released a report on Duterte’s alleged bank deposits,” then, as Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque would ask, who will suspend this operative doggone of the yellow administration?

If AMLC denied having released the document that was attached to the complaint against President Duterte by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, then the evidence this Carandang dangled before the public would have instantly lost all its legs to stand on. It must be pointed out that Carandang requested for an investigation of the bank account arising from the so-called exposé made by Senator Trillanes.

When Carandang publicly presented the document before he could start his investigation, he deviated from the reason stated in his request. One could clearly draw the malice in the act of this yellow operative, which was to pre-empt AMLC by making it appear that he requested for the document which in fact was already in his possession much that it was similar to the one presented by Trillanes.

As overall deputy ombudsman, he knows the whale of difference between a request to investigate from a request to have a copy of the document. The difference is more on the authenticity of the document or the alleged bank account. There was malice much that he merely used as evidence his request to AMLC for a copy dated Aug. 17, 2017, but nonetheless presented said document to the public ahead of his claim to investigate. In that Carandang assumed he could present the document with a semblance of genuineness and authenticity. He entertained the notion that spurious and falsified document could metamorphose to become a genuine document.

If AMLC denied handing him a copy, there is no need for the President to question the authenticity of the document. The document itself stands as spurious and fake, and has no legal and probative value in any court of law. This means Malacanang now has a prima facie case against Carandang for maliciously procuring spurious and fake document. Similarly, for the fact that the document was publicly dangled by him as evidence, he can be sued for maliciously imputing false accusation against the President for alleged ill-gotten wealth.

It is not even a case of violating Banking Secrecy Law or Republic Act No. 1404, or An Act Prohibiting Disclosure of or Inquiry Into, Deposits With Any Banking Institution. Rather, AMLC’s denial means that Carandang is holding on to a fake, spurious or falsified document which we know is intended to destroy the credibility and integrity of the President who has taken a stand against corruption as his principal platform.

Carandang’s resignation in 2007 as assistant ombudsman at the height of the investigation of the celebrated P728 million fertilizer scam was already questionable, much that nothing happened to that case. He have should staked out his reputation as a no-nonsense graft-buster if he truly believes he has an airtight case against those officials accused of misappropriating and/or diverting public funds. Rather, suspicion heightened why he returned after BS Aquino became president. Nonetheless, Carandang did not bother to continue prosecuting those involved in the case he abandoned, such that it is his own credibility that is badly affecting him now.

The way Carandang consciously strategized his move, which only a criminal-minded lawyer could possibly do, clearly indicates that he did not act rather independently of his duty, but as an operative of an abominable US-created regime people of this country all wish to forget. According to one sensible lawyer, the provision in Section 5, Article XI of the Constitution to quote, “There is hereby created an independent Office of the Ombudsman…” has reference to the performance of the Ombudsman’s duty, and not to their commission of a crime like blackmailing public officials to extort money or to curry favor.

The word “independent” means that no office, including the office of the President, can interfere, intervene, influence, pressure or intimidate them from performing out their duty. Thus, when Carandang released with alacrity the alleged bank account of the President, his suspension by the President is right and legal, and his decision was spurred by his malicious act of presenting a questionable document, falsely attributing them as given by AMLC and prematurely dangling them to the public to prejudge the President as corrupt. The consequence would not only destroy his credibility to the vast majority of our people who accorded him the mandate but could even destabilize the government.

His suspension is not one of preventing him from doing his work, which is safeguarded by the an adjective word “independent,” and not as a consequence of his criminal liability for imputing that the President is corrupt. The word independent used in the Constitution is different from the word “Independence” which is a noun. The provision in Section 5, Article XI is to a select public officials, and definitely it does not include the Deputy Overall Ombudsman. Hence, for whatever shortcomings is committed or overlooked by the Deputy is ultimately the responsibility of the Ombudsman who now could be removed by impeachment for possible negligence of duty.

To give in to the refusal of Ombudsman Morales not to enforce the suspension of Carandang is flimsy and dangerous. First, he is not being removed by the President but is being suspended. Second, his suspension means that the President is still giving him a leeway to defend himself, or to accord him his right to due process. Third, to question his suspension by demanding that he should be impeached to meet Ombudsman Morales’ supposition is to place him above the law. Fourth, not suspend him to face prosecution is dangerous as every rascal and rogue public official entrusted to prosecute and enforce the law could use it as his channel to commit corruption. Fifth, Morales cannot extend the privilege of impeachment to her deputy. That would unduly stretch the meaning of the Constitution to officials engaged in partisan political activity in carrying out dirty tricks of defaming and besmirching the name and reputation of the President in coordination with a recalcitrant mutineer.

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