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Palace suspends Deputy Ombudsman for disclosure of Duterte family’s alleged bank records

Malacañang on Monday said Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang has been charged and put under preventive suspension for 90 days.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in a briefing said that the Office of the Executive Secretary has formally charged Carandang with grave misconduct and grave dishonesty for the unauthorized disclosures of the alleged bank transactions of President Rodrigo Duterte and his family.

Roque said that Carandang misused confidential information and disclosed false information, a violation of Section 3-E of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act “for causing any undue injury to any party including the government or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits.”

He said Carandang also violated Section 3-K of RA 3019 in relation to Section 2 Rule 5 of OMB Administrative Order No. 7 “for divulging valuable information of confidential character acquired by his office or by him on account of his official position to unauthorized persons or releasing such information in advance for its authorized release date.”

The OES action was pursuant to a complaint filed by lawyers Manolito Luna and Elijio Mallari at the Office of the President.

Roque, when asked if Malacañang has jurisdiction over Carandang, said that only the Ombudsman is impeachable and Deputy Ombudsmen are "subject to removal by the President.”

“The Deputy Ombudsmen are not impeachable. They’re subject to disciplinary powers of the Chief Executive and this has been decided in the Gonzales case,” he said.

He was citing the case of former Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzales III, who was removed by the Office of the President in connection with the Aug. 23, 2010 Manila hostage crisis. But the Supreme Court reversed the OP decision and reinstated Gonzales in 2012.

Roque told the reporters after the briefing that the decision was issued on January 26. The OES directed Carandang to file his answer within 10 days.

Carandang has yet to release a comment on the suspension order, which stemmed from the complaints separately filed last October by lawyers Manuelito Luna and Eligio Mallari and former lawmakers Glenn Chiong and Jacinto Paras.

"I'm thankful to the Lord for granting our prayer to the Executive department for sustaining our allegations that ODO Carandang should be preventively suspended. Justice is served," Luna said in a text message.

Carandang announced on Sept. 27, 2017 that the Office of the Ombudsman has started a probe on the wealth of the First Family based on the complaint of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

Trillanes claimed that the basis for the complaint against Duterte were bank records from the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

Carandang then claimed that the Office of the Ombudsman is in possession of bank records that show the flow of money through deposits and withdrawals from Duterte's sons, former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and Sebastian "Baste" Duterte, and his joint accounts with his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

The AMLC, however, denied the following day that it had released such documents to the Ombudsman. —with Virgil Lopez/ALG/KBK/BM, GMA News