MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Malacañang will wait for the 10-day period given to Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang to respond to its suspension order before it acts on Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales’ defiance of the order.
“After the lapse of the period provided, the Office of the President shall decide on the matter,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a statement on Wednesday, January 31.
Carandang was given 10 days after receiving the order to respond, in writing.
Carandang received the order on Tuesday, January 30, according to a source. Ten calendar days after would mean the response period ends on February 9.
Asked what Malacañang’s next step would be if Carandang does not respond in 10 days, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the Office of the President (OP) “will proceed with the case.”
“OP will do what it needs to do. Mr Carandang was given 10 days to answer the formal charge. With or without his answer, OP will proceed [with the case]. The matter of implementing the OP preventive suspension order is an internal matter to the Ombudsman,” Guevarra told Rappler.
Malacañang suspended Carandang for supposedly prematurely disclosing documents about President Rodrigo Duterte’s bank accounts and that of his family members. Carandang leads the Ombudsman’s investigation into Duterte’s alleged ill-gotten wealth.
But Morales cited a 2014 Supreme Court (SC) decision that ruled it is unconstitutional for a president to exercise disciplinary powers over even a deputy ombudsman as this would violate the independence of the office.
The 2014 ruling promulgated January 28 that year became final and executory on May 7 the same year, according to SC records.
But Roque said Malacañang is “confident” that the SC would reverse the 2014 ruling and restore the authority of the president to discipline the deputy ombudsman. – Rappler.com