February 25, 2018, 3:13 am
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SolGen: Ombudsman probe on Duterte’s wealth ‘closed’: ‘Why was this kept from the public?’

THE Office of the Ombudsman has “terminated and closed” its investigation on the ill-gotten wealth complaint filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV against President Duterte.

Solicitor General Jose Calida bared this yesterday as he asked the Senate to stop its investigation into the President’s alleged illegally-amassed wealth and for alleged violation of anti-money laundering laws.

There was no reaction from the Ombudsman or Malacañang as of press time.

Calida, in a press conference, 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 Trillanes’ complaint against the President was terminated on Nov. 29, 2017.

Yet, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales kept quiet about it.

“My first reaction is why did she keep this to herself? Perhaps you can ask her that question.

“This case involves the President of the Republic of the Philippines. Why are you withholding this information? When this case was filed, a press conference was even conducted. Three months after the termination of the case, the public has still no knowledge that the evidence supporting the allegations of Trillanes is without merit,” Calida also said.

Carandang, designated by Morales to oversee the investigation after she inhibited herself, was suspended by the Office of the President late last month for grave misconduct, grave dishonesty, and unauthorized disclosure of confidential information in connection with alleged unexplained wealth of President Duterte.

He said in September last year that the Trillanes complaint has enough basis for the Ombudsman to start an investigation.

Morales, defying Malacañang, said she would not suspend Carandang because the order is unconstitutional and poses a threat to the independence of the anti-graft body. There was no mention about the termination of the investigation.

Calida, during the press conference, furnished the media copies of Carandang’s February 12 letter.

“Based on the record, the recommendation to terminate the investigation was approved by Deputy Ombudsman Cyril E. Ramos on 29 November 2017,” Carandang said.

Calida, continuing his attack on Morales, said the Ombudsman has the constitutional duty to make public “matters covered by investigations when the circumstances so warrant and with due prudence.”

Asked if this could be used as a ground to impeach Morales, Calida said, “Considering that she’s retiring from service this July, the time’s too short for that kind of legal proceeding.”
Morales is set to retire in July.

Calida said the Senate should stop its hearing on Duterte’s unexplained wealth and undeclared bank accounts considering it is based on the complaint filed before the Ombudsman.

“Knowing that this frivolous case was terminated by the Ombudsman, Sen. Trillanes now seeks to have another Senate hearing on the matter to convince the public about his garbage junked by the Ombudsman,” Calida said. “The Senate should stop this nonsense investigation.”

Reacting to Calida’s statement, Trillanes said, “If what I have is nothing but garbage, then why are they panicking? And why can’t Mr. Duterte just accept my challenge for him to sign a waiver and if I am wrong in my allegations then I would resign immediately as Senator and voluntarily walk in any jail of his choice?”

Trillanes on February 5 filed a resolution seeking a Senate investigation into alleged bank accounts of Duterte and his daughter, Davao City Mayor “Inday Sara” Duterte Carpio. No date has been set for a hearing as  Trillanes is still questioning the referral of his resolution to the Blue Ribbon committee instead of the banks and financial institutions panel.

Trillanes was declared by the Davao City Council “persona non grata” after he tagged the city as the most dangerous city in the Philippines.

The declaration stemmed from a motion filed by Vice Mayor Bernard Al-ag.

Trillanes is a staunch critic of President Duterte who served as Davao City mayor for several years.

Trillanes said, “My statement was based on the December 2015 statistics of the PNP that Davao City has the highest incidence of murder and second highest in rape.”

“The people of Davao either know it but tolerate it out of fear or they’ve actually believed the lie that was fed to them that Davao City is the safest city in the world,” he added. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque initially declined to comment about the city council’s decision, saying that it did not pertain to the President, but later said that “Congratulations, Davao.”

Also declared persona non grata was philanthropist Loida Nicolas-Lewis who has been accused by Duterte officials of plotting to oust the President.

Duterte recently said Nicolas-Lewis conspired with the International Criminal Court to have him investigated for alleged crimes against humanity in connection with his war against the illegal drugs trade.

Duterte has said he is willing to face the ICC and the charges would not  stop to his campaign against illegal drugs. – With Jocelyn Montemayor
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