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Palace: Ombudsman can probe SEA Games irregularities on its own

Malacañang said Tuesday the Office of the Ombudsman is mandated to investigate alleged irregularities in government after the anti-graft body announced a probe into the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

“It can initiate on its own or motu propio to investigate any complaint of irregularities even without a complainant complaining before it,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said at a news conference.

FULL COVERAGE: 30th Southeast Asian Games on GMA News Online

Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Monday said he has created a seven-member fact-finding panel to investigate corruption allegations against the SEA Games organizers.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, chairperson of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee, welcomed the investigation even as he insisted that there were no irregularities in the country's hosting of the biennial sporting event.

Transportation, food and accommodation issues hounded the Philippines' fourth hosting of the regional sports meet ahead of the opening ceremony on November 30, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to express displeasure and push for a Palace investigation.

Duterte earlier said he does not believe the allegations of corruption against Cayetano.

“President Duterte is a lawyer and we lawyers always give the presumption of innocence to everyone accused of any crime or irregularity,” Panelo said.

“Until such time as evidence to the contrary is given us or given the President, the same presumption of innocence is accorded to him or to anyone.” —NB, GMA News