President Rodrigo Duterte appointed his former legal consultant Warren Liong to a plum post – the crucial Overall Deputy Ombudsman (ODO).
Duterte appointed Liong on November 24, his appointment paper showed. Ombudsman Samuel Martires confirmed the appointment to Rappler on Thursday, November 26.
Liong was legal consultant when Duterte was Davao City vice mayor. He also helped Duterte's local political party during campaigns.
Before his appointment, Liong was a director at the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Services (DBM-PS).
In his new post as ODO, Liong replaced Melchor Arthur Carandang whom Duterte fired in 2018 over media statements in what was an ongoing probe into the wealth of the first family.
Carandang headed that probe, but it was terminated because, according to former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) did not cooperate. It was halted without prejudice to reopening.
Liong's boss in DBM-PS, Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, also applied for the ODO vacancy. Lao used to be an undersecretary to Bong Go, back when the senator was still Special Assistant to the President.
Lao said he eventually withdrew his application to counter speculations that he would use his post in the anti-graft body to cover up alleged corruption in the Duterte administration given his ties with Go.
Liong's curriculum vitae posted on the Philippine Reclamation Authority website said he was Duterte’s legal consultant from August 2010 to June 2013, when the President was Davao City vice mayor,
Prior to that, Liong was an associate at ACCRALAW, spending two years in its Davao office and one year in its head office.
In 2004, 2007, and 2010, he helped train members of Duterte’s local political party, Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod on legal matters related to political campaigns and on poll-watching on election day.
He earned a law degree from Ateneo de Davao University in 2006 and an accountancy degree from De La Salle University in 1999. Senator Bong Go, Duterte’s most trusted aide, also graduated from the DLSU around the same time.
Liong's new role in the Office of the Ombudsman is critical.
In many instances, resolutions go through the ODO for approval before these are raised to Ombudsman Samuel Martires for a final check. In some resolutions involving low-ranking officials, the ODO can be the final check.
Carandang's firing was controversial because a prevailing Supreme Court decision prohibits the President from disciplining deputy ombudsmen. Morales defied the firing during her time. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.