Opposition urges House to support Ombudsman amid Duterte probe
MANILA, Philippines – Members of the House of Representatives' opposition bloc on Tuesday, October 3, filed a resolution calling on the lower chamber of Congress to "express its support for Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, Overall Deputy Ombudsman [Arthur Carandang], and the Office of the Ombudsman" as the office investigates allegations that President Rodrigo Duterte amassed ill-gotten wealth.
House Resolution 1376 was filed by Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman, Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat, Capiz 1st District Representative Emmanuel Billones, Northern Samar 1st District Representative Raul Daza, Caloocan 2nd District Representative Edgar Erice, Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin, and Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano.
All 7 lawmakers are part of the independent minority bloc in the House.
The Office of the Ombudsman earlier announced it was pushing through with its probe into the Duterte family, following a complaint filed by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, one of the President's staunchest critics.
Trillanes accused Duterte of having bank accounts not declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN). Public officials are required to truthfully declare their wealth in their SALNs.
In the resolution, which was filed on October 3, the lawmakers cited Article XI, Section 1 of the Constitution which states: "Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives."
The Ombudsman is tasked to probe – through its own doing and through complaints – allegations of wrongdoing involving public officials. Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang, last week, said they have documents on bank transactions of Duterte and his family. (READ: AMLC's bank records on Duterte show P1-B flow of money – Ombudsman)
Malacañang earlier said Duterte has nothing to hide and trusts in the "impartiality" of the Ombudsman. But Duterte himself, in an interview taped the same day, threatened to have the Ombudsman probed for "partiality."
Duterte also said he would not put himself under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.
"The statement made by the President clearly aims to threaten and intimidate an independent constitutional body in order to divert attention and conceal the truth contained in the bank transaction records obtained by the Office of the Ombudsman," the House resolution reads.
The 7 lawmakers added that Duterte's remarks against the Office of the Ombudsman "aims to discredit the Office... similar to what the President has done with the Chief Justice, the Commission on Human Rights, the Catholic Church, the media, and other groups or institutions critical of the President's views."
The opposition bloc urged the House to remind the executive branch "to honor the independence of the Office of the Ombudsman as it remains steadfast in its mandate of being a vanguard against corruption in government."
The House is dominated by a Duterte-allied "supermajority." The 7 who authored the resolution belong to one of two "independent minority" blocs. The other group is the Makabayan bloc, which is composed of progressive lawmakers. – Rappler.com