Martires: No choice but dismiss Overall Deputy Ombudsman Carandang

MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Samuel Martires said on Monday, August 6, that he will have no choice but to dismiss Overall Deputy Ombudsman (ODO) Melchor Arthur Carandang when Malacañang’s decision becomes final.

“I have no choice, but it will depend on ODO…I don’t think he’s that hard headed, I see him as a very reasonable guy,” Martires told reporters on Monday after he took his oath as Ombudsman at the Supreme Court before Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio.

Martires said Carandang is entitled to file a motion for reconsideration (MR) before Malacañang, but when the motion is denied and the decision is affirmed – which is likely – the new Ombudsman said Carandang will also have no choice.

Carandang was dismissed because of alleged breach of confidentiality, and even graft, when he made statements on the bank investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte's wealth. The investigation has since been terminated.

Martires’ tone sends a message to Carandang to leave quietly on his own. (READ: The Carandang conflict: Threat to checks and balances)

“Once ODO Carandang goes to the Court of Appeals, I think he knows that immediately he has to leave the office,  I don’t have to implement the decision of Malacañang,” Martires said.

He added: “I think ODO Carandang, as a lawyer, knows what are the consequences of going to the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.”

There is the 2014 Supreme Court Gonzales ruling that declared as unconstitutional the provision that previously gave Presidents the power to discipline a deputy Ombudsman. By virtue of that ruling, only Ombudsmen can discipline his or her deputies.

We asked Martires whether there is any other ruling that Malacañang can cite as its authority to dismiss Carandang.  (READ: Carandang case: Impeachment for Morales or Duterte?)

Martires said: “I don’t think…it’s only the Gonzales ruling actually that is prevailing.”

We asked what then is the legal basis of Malacañang to dismiss Carandang. 

He said: “No comment, huwag 'nyo ko ipitin diyan (Don’t put me in the middle.)

The challenge for Carandang is if he takes the case to the Supreme Court, he opens up the possibility for the Gonzales ruling to be reversed. Malacañang top officials have said they are confident of a reversal.

Carandang can potentially be dismissed no matter what he does or where he goes.

It’s just a matter of when and how it will play out. –

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.