July 19, 2018, 8:43 pm
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Ombudsman confirms end of Rody wealth probe: Answers issues raised by SolGen

THE Office of the Ombudsman yesterday confirmed it has closed and terminated its investigation on President Duterte’s alleged ill-gotten wealth but said it is “not obliged” to inform him of the “outcome.”

In a statement, the Office of the Ombudsman also said the investigation can still be re-opened because “a closed and terminated field investigation is without prejudice to the re-filing of a complaint with new or additional evidence.”

It said the probe was “closed and terminated” after the Anti-Money Laundering Council “declined to provide a report or confirmation on the requested vital data.”

The Ombudsman was reacting to Solicitor General (SolGen) Jose Calida who on Tuesday disclosed the termination of the investigation and asked why Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales kept the information from the public.

The Ombudsman, in a statement, said it would be inappropriate for Morales to announce the termination because she has inhibited from the investigation.

“The Solicitor General raised certain questions which may be answered by his own declarations. He asked why the Ombudsman kept quiet about the matter. Oddly, he himself pointed out that the Ombudsman had inhibited herself from the investigation,” she said.

Calida has said he asked the Office of the Ombudsman on February 9 about the status of its investigation into Duterte’s alleged hidden wealth, and got a reply letter from Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang, dated February 12, stating that the investigation on the complaint of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV against the President was terminated on Nov. 29, 2017.

Morales said she learned about the closure and termination only last January 29, upon an inquiry on the investigation’s status and after learning that Carandang was formally charged and placed under preventive suspension by the Office of the President.

Morales last year designated Carandang to oversee the investigation on Duterte’s alleged hidden wealth after she inhibited herself. Morales is a relative of presidential son-in-law Mans Carpio who is married to Davao City mayor and presidential daughter Sara.

Carandang’s 90-day suspension was announced on January 29 by Malacañang which said it was for grave misconduct, grave dishonesty, and unauthorized disclosure of confidential information in connection with Trillanes’ complain that Duterte has unexplained wealth. 

Morales has refused to implement the suspension order, citing a Supreme Court ruling in 2014 that said it is “unconstitutional” for a President to impose disciplinary action over a deputy ombudsman.

Morales, in her statement, said Calida “might want to consider whether it is proper for an official who inhibited from an investigation to remain involved therein.”

“The Ombudsman posits that it is not. In keeping therewith, the investigation was given free rein and proceeded without her intervention,” she said.

Morales also said the confidentiality of proceedings was recognized by Calida himself, “when he cited the exception that the Ombudsman has the power to publicize certain matters (e.g., whether or not to act upon an inquiry ‘out of curiosity’ or media requests for case status out of journalistic duty).”

“The Ombudsman could not have considered exercising such discretionary power relative to the complaints against the President due to her inhibition,” she said.

Morales said Calida also “effectively recognized” Carandang as overall deputy ombudsman because of his letter dated February 8, when he “had been ‘supposedly’ under preventive suspension.”

“The Office sees this as a recognition of the unconstitutionality of the (Office of the President’s) preventive suspension order,” she said.

Malacañang has said the suspension order stemmed from a complaint filed by lawyers Manuelito Luna and Elijio Mallari in October 2017 against Carandang after he allegedly released information to media about the President’s alleged bank accounts and a supposed probe by the Office of the Ombudsman on the matter.

A month earlier, Carandang said the Trillanes complaint had enough basis for the Ombudsman to start an investigation.

Trillanes has said he based his complaint on bank records from AMLC. He also said the Ombudsman was in possession of AMLC records regarding Duterte’s alleged bank transactions worth about P2 billion.
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