Deputy Ombudsman Carandang remains in office, but faces internal probe

Lian Buan

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Deputy Ombudsman Carandang remains in office, but faces internal probe
Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang is subjected to an internal probe over his terminated investigation into the alleged unexplained wealth of President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Phillippines – Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang is undergoing an internal investigation at the Office of the Ombudsman after a complaint was filed against him for disclosures he made about the bank probe into President Rodrigo Duterte.

Yes, we’re investigating, if there’s any liability, we fault them if there is, if there’s none then sorry…Because the President was saying that he breached confidentiality,” Morales said at a justice forum in Quezon City on Tuesday, May 8.

The Ombudsman’s Internal Affairs Board investigates Ombudsman officials, and had sanctioned a few in the past because of administrative liabilities. Morales said they will also look into possible criminal liability.

Morales revealed the internal investigation as she asserted that only the Office of the Ombudsman can discipline deputy ombudsmen, pursuant to a Supreme Court decision. (READ: Carandang case: Impeachment for Morales or Duterte?)

Carandang was suspended by the Office of the Executive Secretary in January for supposed premature disclosure of documents about Duterte’s bank accounts. Carandang told media there is a cash flow of almost P1 billion in the Duterte accounts.

Suspension not implemented

Carandang attended the forum on Tuesday, which is a clear confirmation that the Malacañang suspension order was never implemented.

“I did not implement the order. In light of the prevailing jurisprudence, it is the Ombudsman, not the President, who can discipline the deputy ombudsman,” Morales said.

Morales said this while Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra was a seat away from her. Guevarra was the senior deputy executive secretary when Malacañang suspended Carandang.

Guevarra refused to comment and deferred to Morales.

The suspension order, and the eventual internal probe, stemmed from a complaint filed by administration-allied Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) which accused Carandang of criminally violating rules on bank confidentialities. (READ: Deputy Ombudsman Carandang: I maintained confidentiality)

The bank investigation has since been “closed and terminated” curiously, not by Carandang, but by Deputy Ombudsman for Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (MOLEO) Cyril Ramos.

“When you say closed and terminated, that is without prejudice to another investigation if warranted,” Morales, however, pointed out on Tuesday night.

The Office of the Ombudsman had earlier said that the cause of the probe termination was the refusal of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to cooperate.

Visayas Ombudsman included 

Subjecting Carandang to an internal probe is seen as an exercise of discretion, and the Office of the Ombudsman making itself and its officials accountable. 

Morales said that even Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas Paul Clemente is being subjected to an internal probe.

The VACC had also filed a complaint against Clemente before Malacañang for the deputy’s decisions dismissing from office a VACC client, Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo. 

Clemente and Carandang did not give comments. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.