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Inquiry on Trillanes rap vs. Duterte at Ombudsman ‘closed’ in November — SolGen Calida

Solicitor General Jose Calida on Tuesday said he received a reply letter from the Office of the Ombudsman saying its inquiry into Senator Antonio Trillanes IV's plunder complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte was closed and terminated in November last year.

Calida is now questioning why Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales "kept this to herself," saying she "should explain... why she kept this from the public."

At a press conference, Calida gave the media copies of a letter signed by Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang dated February 12, answering his supposed inquiry as to the status of the case.

The letter said the case was "already closed and terminated," a development which Calida interpreted as tantamount to "junking."

"Based on the record, the recommendation to terminate the investigation was approved by Deputy Ombudsman Cyril E. Ramos on 29 November 2017," the letter said.

The plunder complaint, filed when Duterte was still Davao City mayor, was about the alleged questionable hiring of 11,246 contractual workers by the city government in 2014.

In September 2017, Carandang announced the Office of the Ombudsman has found "sufficient basis" in Trillanes' complaint for the agency to start a probe on the alleged multi-billion-peso wealth of the first family.

"My first reaction is why did she keep this to herself? Perhaps you can ask her that question," Calida said, referring to the Ombudsman.

"If a case in the magnitude like this when the President of the Philippines is the respondent and the case was dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman, why will they not disclose it to the public?" he later said when asked if this alleged non-disclosure was a breach of normal protocol.

Calida could not immediately say if this constitutes a basis for the Office of the Solicitor General to file charges against the Ombudsman, but added that using this as ground for her impeachment no longer seems likely.

"Considering that she's retiring from service this July, the time's too short for that kind of legal proceeding," he said.

He also insisted Trillanes' "garbage" evidence "was junked."

"His evidence was junked, because it is junk actually. Junk is another word for garbage," said Calida.

The opposition senator had earlier claimed that the Office of the Ombudsman was in possession of records from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) regarding the President's alleged bank transactions involving over P2 billion in deposits and credits.

The AMLC, however, denied giving the Ombudsman the said information.

Calida said he has yet to inform the President of this new development.

For his part, Trillanes said he has yet to receive any letter from the Ombudsman informing him that his complaint against Duterte had been "closed and terminated."

He said he only learned about it from the media.

GMA News Online is still trying to reach the Office of the Ombudsman for comment.

Trillanes, meanwhile, reiterated his challenge for Duterte to sign the waiver on his  bank accounts.

"Granting na totoo ang sinasabi ni Calida, bakit sila nagpa-panic? Bakit ayaw niya pirmahan 'yung waiver? 'Pag mali ako magre-resign ako at magpapakulong ako," he said.

"Ano pa man ang legal processes, lalaking usapan, kung walang tinatagong milyong yaman e pirmahan ang waiver," he added. — RSJ/ALG/MDM, GMA News