Panelo to challenge Duterte probe before Supreme Court
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Chief Presidential Counsel Salvador Panelo said he will file petition before the Supreme Court (SC) questioning a legal provision that allows the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate President Rodrigo Duterte.
Panelo was referring to Section 22 of Republic Act 6770, or the Ombudsman Act of 1989.
"I intend to file a petition with the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of that provision because it circumvents the doctrine of immunity of a sitting president," Panelo said in an interview on dzMM on Friday, October 6.
The President is considered immune from suit, and can only be removed from office by impeachment. (READ: Putting a president behind bars)
Still, Section 22 of the Ombudsman Act of 1989 states, "The Office of the Ombudsman shall have the power to investigate any serious misconduct in office allegedly committed by officials removable by impeachment, for the purpose of filing a verified complaint for impeachment, if warranted."
For Panelo, however, facing an investigation would hamper the President's "time and efficiency in running the affairs of the state."
"Naiistorbo siya eh (He is being disturbed)," Panelo said.
In a Viber message later on Friday, Panelo said, "Nope, I'm not going to the Supreme Court."
"I said I'd study the possibility of questioning the investigatory power of the Ombudsman (Section 22 of RA 6770 ) to investigate the President for the purpose of filing an impeachment complaint as being violative of the Constitution in that the investigation is a circumvention of the doctrine of presidential immunity from suit anchored on the compelling necessity of a sitting President not being saddled with suits as it diminishes his presidential time and hampers his efficiency in running the affairs of the state," Panelo added.
Duterte earlier said he was also pushing for the impeachment of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.
This comes as the Office of the Ombudsman said it was investigating the Duterte family's wealth.
The Office of the Ombudsman said bank transactions of Duterte and his family through the years amount to a total of more than P1 billion ($19.63 million). The President is being accused of amassing hidden wealth.
Duterte had apparently turned the tables on the Ombudsman after it began its investigation, by creating an anti-corruption body that he has empowered to investigate officials outside the executive.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, a former justice secretary, had said that the newly created Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), has no power over the Office of the Ombudsman and the judiciary as stated in Executive Order 43. – Rappler.com
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