FAST FACTS: Who is Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang?
MANILA, Philippines – Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang experienced the full blow of President Rodrigo Duterte’s ire as his investigation into the President’s bank records put him centerstage in the standoff between the Office of the Ombudsman and Malacañang.
Malacañang formally charged Carandang last January 29 and ordered his suspension for 90 days after he allegedly prematurely disclosed “unauthenticated” documents on the bank transactions of Duterte and members of his family, totaling about P1 billion. (READ: Malacañang suspends Deputy Ombudsman Carandang)
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, however, has defied this order citing a 2014 Supreme Court ruling that declared the order unconstitutional. The High Court said the president cannot discipline deputy ombudsmen who belong to an independent constitutional body.
The case once again puts into question the official powers of the president and Office of the Ombudsman, with experts saying the case can result in an impeachment of either party. (READ: Carandang case: Impeachment for Morales or Duterte?)
Here’s what you need to know about Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang.
High profile cases
Carandang was admitted to the Philippine Bar in May 1991 and had long been affiliated with the Office of the Ombudsman.
In October 2013, former President Benigno Aquino III appointed him overall deputy of the graft body, replacing Orlando Casimiro who retired. He received 5 out of 6 votes from the Judicial and Bar Council in 2013 when he was shortlisted for the position of Deputy Ombudsman. Senator Aquilino Pimentel III did not vote at the time.
But before taking on the post, Carandang also served as Assistant Ombudsman when former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo – who led the legal panel that successfully prosecuted former president Joseph Estrada for plunder – was at the helm.
In 2007, he left the office when former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s former chief legal counsel Merceditas Gutierrez took over as Ombudsdan. He later returned in 2011 as a legal consultant.
Carandang is also no stranger to high-profile cases.
He previously led the investigation into the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, which resulted in the misuse of government funds. The scam happened under the Arroyo administration.
In January 2014, he was later designated by Morales “Acting Special Prosecutor with full powers,” after then-president Aquino dismissed Wendell Barreras-Sulit who handled the plea bargain case of former Major General Carlos Garcia.
Carandang took on yet another high-profile case in 2017, this time as the lead investigator of the case involving the alleged ill-gotten wealth of President Duterte and his family.
Last September, Carandang confirmed that the Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao had requested the aid of their office to help validate, with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), the list of bank transactions from Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s complaint against President Duterte.
Carandang later said the copy of the bank records from the AMLC “more or less” looked like the document submitted by Trillanes, though the AMLC later on said they did not provide the Office of the Ombudsman with any report. (READ: AMLC's bank records on Duterte show P1-B flow of money – Ombudsman)
But Carandang maintained a request was made to the AMLC and that he “observed confidentiality” in the ongoing investigations into the wealth of Duterte and his family members.
In a speech delivered last September Duterte hit Carandang directly and said, ”Imagine this, Carandang, mag – magdasal ka lang, Carandang. I'm not threatening you. Pagka-nagkaletse-letse ang Pilipinas, uunahin kita.”
(Imagine this, Carandang, just pray, Carandang. I'm not threatening you. If the Philippines ends up in shambles, I'll go after you first.)
With a suspension order delivered months later, has Duterte made good on this threat? – Rappler.com