Malacañang on Carandang: ‘There is only one President’

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Malacañang on Carandang: ‘There is only one President’
'Without a TRO, we will implement the law,' Malacañang says after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales rejected its suspension order against Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday, February 1, asserted the authority of President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang despite a Supreme Court (SC) ruling that declared such acts as unconstitutional. 

“There cannot be an impasse. There is only one sitting President in the country, and he will implement the law,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a press briefing in Baguio City on Thursday.

Roque said Carandang can get a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the SC if he thinks Duterte’s act is illegal.

“Without a TRO, we will implement the law,” said Roque, known as a constitutional law professor before becoming Duterte’s mouthpiece.

Duterte suspended Carandang for alleged illegal disclosure of his and his family’s bank details. Carandang leads the Ombudsman’s probe into Duterte’s alleged ill-gotten wealth.

Roque’s statement comes after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Wednesday, January 31, rejected Duterte’s order to suspend Carandang for 90 days. 

Morales cited an SC decision in 2014 that said it is unconstitutional for a president to discipline a deputy ombudsman because the Office of the Ombudsman is an independent body. 

This SC ruling became final and executory in May 2014, but Duterte suspended Carandang anyway because Malacañang is confident that the SC will reverse this ruling. (READ: The Carandang conflict: Threat to checks and balances)

This is the same High Court that has favored Duterte in at least two landmark rulings – allowing a hero’s burial for dictator Ferdinand Marcos and upholding martial law in Mindanao. 

Duterte, who ruled Davao City with an iron fist for more than two decades, earlier threatened not to honor TROs if abused by judges, and to padlock Congress if it gets in his way. –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email