February 25, 2018, 4:01 am
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Carandang relieved for ‘nothing’

PRESIDENT Duterte’s situation on the issue of his and his daughter Sara’s undeclared wealth is like him being caught in a quicksand: every move that he makes causes him to sink deeper.

The latest is the suspension for 90 days which was announced by presidential spokesman Harry Roque last Monday.

The suspension order was signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea who charged Carandang with the following: grave misconduct and grave dishonesty for misuse of confidential information and disclosing false information; violation of Section 3-E of RA 3019 for causing any undue injury to any party including the government or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage of preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial function through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence, and number three; violation of 3-K of RA 3019 in relation to Section 2 Rule 5 of OMB Administrative Order No. 7 for divulging valuable information of confidential character acquired by his office or by him on account of his official position to unauthorized persons or releasing such information in advance for its authorized release date.”

On Wednesday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales issued a statement standing her ground on the independence of the Ombudsman’s office. She bucked Medialdia’s suspension order of Carandang.

“It has become clear that the act of the Office of the President in taking cognizance of the complaints against the Overall Deputy Ombudsman and ordering his preventive suspension was not an inadvertent error but a clear affront to the Supreme Court and an impairment of the constitutionally enshrined independence of the Office of the Ombudsman.”

Carpio-Morales cited a 2014 Supreme Court ruling in the Emilio A. Gonzales III vs. the Office of the President that declared unconstitutional the Ombudsman Act’s provision that gave the OP disciplinary powers over the government watchdog’s deputies.

“In Gonzales III, the Supreme Court categorically declared unconstitutional the administrative disciplinary jurisdiction of the President over deputy ombudsmen. The Ombudsman cannot, therefore, seriously place at risk the independence of the very Office which she has pledged to protect on the strength of the constitutional guarantees which the High Court has upheld,” Carpio-Morales said.

The Ombudsman also found offensive Roque’s statement that Malacañang is “confident” that the Supreme Court would “reverse” its pronouncement in Carandang’s case.

“In a society founded on the rule of law, the arbitrary disregard of a clearly worded jurisprudence coupled with a confident stance that it will be changed should never be countenanced,” she said.

Carandang is currently on leave.

The third offense cited in Medialdia’s suspension order is weird because the Anti-Money Laundering Council under President Duterte’s appointee, Mel Georgie Racela, denies having sent bank documents requested by the Ombudsman related to the plunder case filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV against the President.

“The charges stem from unauthorized disclosure of confidential information which (the Anti-Money Laundering Council) clarified did not come from them, which AMLC also said were wrong and misleading,” Roque said.

In my column last Wednesday I asked, if AMLAC did not send bank documents to Ombudsman, what did Carandang leak?

Malaya columnist Jose Bayani Baylon remarked in Facebook: “Carandang was fired for nothing. You see the AMLAC has nothing on the President. Carandang is said to have gotten documents from AMLAC which must have contained nothing. Carandang is said to have leaked these documents, for which Malacañang wants him relieved. Ergo: he is being relieved for nothing!’

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