By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent
President Rodrigo Duterte said he will not cooperate with the Office of the Ombudsman’s probe into the alleged millions of pesos in his bank accounts which he failed to disclose as required by law, vowing he would “not submit” to its authority.
He said the allegations against him by the Office of the Ombudsman, which he calls “lousy,” were “lies based on baseless” information.
“I will not submit to the jurisdiction (of the Ombudsman),” Duterte said in a curse-laden speech during the oath-taking of the new members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Davao City last September 30.”
“Waving fabricated evidence, lying to his teeth in front of the nation and then you want me to submit to the jurisdiction of the ombudsman?” said Duterte, referring to Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang who announced the investigation.
Carandang, who is leading the Ombudsman’s investigation into Duterte’s alleged ill-gotten wealth said the President has some PHP 1 billion in cash flow in his accounts.
“Imagine this, Carandang, pray, Carandang. I’m not threatening you. If the Philippines goes to mess, you will be first,” said Duterte, contradicting his spokesman’s statement last week that the President respected the Ombudsman and trusted its impartiality.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said the Office of the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over Duterte. He pointed out that the President is like the Ombudsman — both impeachable officials.
“Theoretically, the President is right that no one has jurisdiction over him except Congress and the Senate. Congress to impeach him, Senate to try him. Theoretically, he is correct,” said Pimentel.
“They are both correct. No one is immune from investigation but the President is immune from suits, from cases, except an impeachment case. The President is also not required to cooperate with this investigation by the Ombudsman,” he added.
The Senate leader also said Malacañang should be allowed to probe the issue not only against Morales but the entire Office of the Ombudsman,” particularly alleged corruption inside the Agency.
“Let him investigate. Let’s allow the Executive branch to investigate the Office of the Ombudsman,” he added.
Duterte earlier said he will create a commission to investigate the Ombudsman for alleged corruption.
He warned that he will order the arrest of officials from the Office of the Ombudsman who will evade an investigation by the “independent body” that he will establish.
Duterte said he will “apply for subpoena powers from the courts” to force Ombudsman officials to subject themselves to his “independent” commission.
“If you do not show up, I will have you arrested. I will order the police and the military to arrest you. That’s the only way. That’s not being a dictator. Justice for one, justice for all. Sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose,” said Duterte.
But Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales told Duterte in a statement: “Sorry, Mr. President but this office shall not be intimidated.”
Saying this appears to be a retaliation to their ongoing investigation, Carpio-Morales vowed they will nonetheless proceed with the probe as mandated by the Constitution.
Morales also said it is also standing by the media statements of Carandang on bank transaction records of Duterte and his family.
On Duterte’s accusations of partiality, she said: “We have always welcomed the efforts to help us continue to cleanse our ranks.”
“Out Internal Affairs Board has entrapped and removed Ombudsman officials and employees for various offenses,” said Morales who related that she had already inhibited from all Duterte-related complaints before her office. She is related to Duterte by marriage – her brother, lawyer Lucas Carpio Jr, is the father of Manases Carpio, the husband of Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
The Ombudsman investigation stemmed from a plunder complaint filed before the elections by opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV who alleged that Duterte embezzled government funds during his more than two decade stint as mayor of Davao City.
Duterte said his family had properties and businesses including an ice plant and lumberyard, adding his late father was a provincial governor.
While campaigning for the presidency in May 2016, Duterte said he came from a poor family and lived a modest lifestyle even sleeping under a “mosquito net.”
“All in all it would not go beyond 40 million (pesos or $785,000), my lifetime savings. A part of that was my hereditary – you people from Davao know this – property. I hate to say it (but) what do you think of us, poor? That we are that poor?” said Duterte.
Trillanes told Duterte to stop harassing government officials who are only doing their job in investigating him. He insisted that the only way for the President to disprove allegations of corruption is by waiving his bank secrecy rights.
“The only way to show you are innocent is to open your bank records,” said Trillanes who has accused Duterte of having over PHP 2 billion in bank deposits.
“It’s easy to disprove that. Mr. Duterte, face the accusations against you, be man enough and sign a waiver, and if the allegations (are not true), that will destroy the Ombudsman, I will walk to prison and resign from the Senate,” he said.