Duterte says he will snub Ombudsman probe

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte has said he would not cooperate with the Office of the Ombudsman's investigation into allegations he acquired ill-gotten wealth, vowing he would "not submit" to its authority.

The Ombudsman said last week it was investigating claims Duterte's bank accounts had hundreds of millions of pesos which he failed to disclose as required by law.

Duterte responded by lashing out at the Office of the Ombudsman, calling the agency "lousy" and saying allegations against him were "lies based on baseless" information. 

"I will not submit to the jurisdiction (of the Ombudsman)," Duterte said in a curse-laden speech during the oathtaking of new members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Davao City on Saturday night, September 30.

"Waving fabricated evidence, lying to his teeth in front of the nation and then you want me to submit to the jurisdiction of the ombudsman," Duterte said, referring to Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang who had announced the probe.

Duterte said amounts in transactions should not be added up.

"Mag-deposito ka dito, 500, madagdagan bukas ng ganansya mo ng 10 pesos, ilagay mo uli, and they counted it all over again (You deposit P500, and then the next day you earn P10 and then you deposit it again, they counted it all over again)," Duterte said after Carandang told media the money flow in the president's bank transactions totaled P1 billion.

Duterte added: "If there is a P200 million in the banks, you will receive my resignation immediately. Sigurado 'yan. (That's for sure)."

Duterte told Carandang: "Ngayon, hindi ako mag-submit ng jurisdiction because it’s a lousy thing. Imagine this, Carandang, mag --- magdasal ka lang, Carandang. I’m not threatening you. Pagka-nagkaletse-letse ang Pilipinas, uunahin kita."

(I will not submit jurisdiction because it's a lousy thing. Imagine this, Carandang, pray, Carandang. I'm not threatening you. If the Philippines goes to mess, you will be first.)

Duterte's remarks contradicted his spokesman's statement last week that the President respected the Ombudsman and trusted its impartiality. 

Duterte, 72, won last year's presidential elections on a brutal law-and-order and anti-corruption platform.

During the election campaign Duterte had said he came from a poor family and lived a modest lifestyle which boosted his image as an anti-establishment politician representing the common folk, analysts said.

The Ombudsman probe stemmed from a plunder complaint filed before the elections by opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV who alleged Duterte embezzled government funds during his more than two-decade stint as mayor of Davao City.

On Saturday, Duterte said his family had properties and businesses including an ice plant and lumberyard, adding his late father was a provincial governor. 

"All in all it would not go beyond 40 million (pesos or $785,000), my lifetime savings. A part of that was my hereditary – you people from Davao know this – property," Duterte said.

"I hate to say it (but) what do you think of us, poor? That we are that poor?"

Duterte also hit the statement of IBP national president Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo saying the president should not be onion-skinned and respect the Ombudsman's independence.

"And you just say, "Do not be onion-skinned." Who are you to tell me in face of fabricated evidence? Sinabi ko na sa --- before the election, wala ako niyan. At wala ako ngayon (I didn't have it and I still don't have it), I said, to your sorrow. Ihampas ko sa mukha mo 'yang papel na 'yan (I'll slap you with that piece of paper)" Duterte said.

Duterte has launched tirades against the Supreme Court chief justice, the Commission on Human Rights, the Catholic Church and critical media outlets. He and his allies have then started campaigns to curb their powers or discredit them.

Duterte last week said he would create a commission to investigate corruption in the Ombudsman, a move an opposition congressman called an act of vindictiveness. – With reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com