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Ombudsman to Duterte: Sorry but this office shall not be intimidated

The Office of the Ombudsman on Friday said it would push through with its investigation on the wealth of President Rodrigo Duterte and his family despite getting a threat to be probed by the chief executive.

"Sorry, Mr. President, but this Office shall not be intimidated," the Ombudsman said in a press statement, issued a day after Duterte threatened to probe the office and its personnel.

“You have to be investigated also. One of these days, kayo ang sigurado kong hahabulin dahil nga sa partiality ninyo. ‘Pag hindi ninyo imbestigahan ang sarili ninyo, ako ang mag-set up ng commission to investigate you as a President with investigating powers,” Duterte said over state-run People's Television.

But the Ombudsman said the Chief Executive seemed to be trying to get back at the Office of the Ombudsman for probing the alleged multi-billion-peso bank accounts of the First Family.

"The President’s announcement that he intends to create a commission to investigate the Ombudsman appears to have to do with this Office’s on-going investigation into issues that involve him," it said.

The Ombudsman vowed that the office would proceed with its investigation, saying Duterte has nothing to fear if there were no anomalous transactions in his bank accounts.

"This Office, nonetheless, shall proceed with the probe, as mandated by the Constitution," the office said. "If the President has nothing to hide, he has nothing to fear."

Based on the complaint filed by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang said they have found sufficient basis to start its probe on the alleged multi-billion-peso wealth of Duterte. 

Carandang said initial bank records from the Anti-Money Laundering Council showed the flow of money through deposits and withdrawals from Duterte's sons, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo and Sebastian Duterte, and his joint accounts with his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

He added that the accounts of Duterte's common-law wife, Honeylet Avancena, and their daughter, Veronica, were also included in the records.

The AMLC, however, denied providing the Ombudsman with documents and information related to its investigation of the Duterte bank accounts.

But the Ombudsman said it "stands by its word" on the bank documents it has in its possession.

The office, nonetheless, welcomed Duterte's remarks in an effort to cleanse of lead government watchdog of corrupt officials.

"This Office, all the same, welcomes, as it has always welcomed, efforts to help it cleanse its ranks. Its Internal Affairs Board has, in fact, entrapped and removed Ombudsman officials and employees for various offenses," the statement said.— MDM/KBK, GMA News