CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Kapampangan lawyer Eligio Mallari on Tuesday, October 3, filed an administrative complaint versus Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang who is leading a probe into the alleged hidden wealth of President Rodrigo Duterte, and Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Rodolfo Elman, and members of the fact-finding investigation team of Ombudsman's office in Mindanao.
Mallari, president of the Vanguard of the Constitution of the Philippines, a former human rights lawyer and technical assistant of the late Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, filed the complaint before the Office of the President (OP) on Tuesday, October 3, together with fellow lawyer Manuel Luna.
The complaint stemmed from anti-graft body's ongoing investigation into the alleged multi-billion peso undeclared wealth of Duterte and his family.
In the complaint, Carandang was accused of committing graft and corruption "for divulging information of a confidential character, acquired by him on account of his official position to unauthorized persons."
Carandang also allegedly betrayed public trust "for falsely and maliciously claiming that the AMLC had issued a report regarding the alleged account deposits of President Rodrigo Duterte."
"His (Carandang) disclosures of the inflows and outflows of funds, amounts of the account deposits, nature of the bank deposits, depositors’ names, and other details are not benign, but are calculated to destabilize the economy, if not the entire Government," Mallari and Luna said.
Carandang earlier claimed that he obtained records of Duterte family's bank transactions from Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
The AMLC, in response, denied that it was the source of copies of Duterte's bank records, noting that it is yet to evaluate Carandang's request to release such documents.
The removal of Carandang, Elman, and members of anti-graft body's investigation team in Mindanao was sought on the grounds of graft and corruption, betrayal of public trust, and gross misconduct.
Duterte, who has been the subject of Ombudsman's inquiry, has warned Carandang against using "fabricated" evidence against him and his family.
The President has also maintained that he would not cooperate with the Ombudsman, in connection with the probe into his alleged ill-gotten wealth.
He has also threatened to create a fact-finding body that would investigate the alleged irregularities in the Ombudsman, including the alleged rampant extortion activities.
The complainants also alleged Elman for committing graft and corruption and betrayal of public trust as he provided Carandang information about "the mere possession of information relative to account deposits and transactions" of Duterte family.
"Doubtless, respondent Elman co-opted or conspired with Carandang, and is equally liable for graft and corruption or betrayal of public trust as the latter," the complaint read.
Earlier, Carandang said the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao had already investigated Duterte's wealth last year before the presidential campaign, based on the former Davao City mayor's Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Networth (SALN).
The complainants also said members of fact-finding investigation team of the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao should be dismissed for gross misconduct because of having the possession of documents against Duterte and his family.
"It is respectfully prayed of the honorable office that after proper proceedings, Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur H. Carandang and Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Rodolfo M. Elman be held administratively liable and ordered removed from office," the complaint read.
"The Fact-Finding Investigation Team/Field Investigation Unit members, too, be held administratively liable and ordered dismissed from the service," it added.
Under Section 8 of Ombudsman Act, the President has the authority to remove from office any personnel of the Ombudsman's office for culpable violation of 1987 Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. (JTD/SunStar Pampanga and Ruth Abbey Gita/SunStar Philippines)