'No choice' but to enforce dismissal of Carandang - Ombudsman Martires

'No choice' but to enforce dismissal of Carandang - Ombudsman Martires

Last days of Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Carandang is numbered.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires when asked about the dismissal order against Carandang he replied he has “no choice” but to implement it.

Ombudsman Martires said that he will carry out the dismissal order from the Office of the Executive Secretary. 

Newly appointed Ombudsman Samuel Martires (photo credit to owner)

A contentious issue is a 2014 Supreme Court ruling that voided the president’s disciplinary jurisdiction over a deputy ombudsman.

Carandang still has 15 days to file a motion for reconsideration to overturn the dismissal. Should the appeal be denied, the Ombudsman said has “no choice” but to dismiss Carandang.

“But it will depend on ODO [Carandang]...I don’t think he’s that hard-headed. I see him as a very reasonable guy. I knew him since I was in the Sandiganbayan. I think ODO Carandang will just follow what the law provides.” Martires said.

Reporters asked the newly appointed Ombudsman if Malacañang has the power to dismiss Carandang, who is an Office of the Ombudsman executive, Martires said: “No comment. No comment. Wag niyo ‘ko ipitin diyan. (Don’t back me into a corner on this.)”

He added that the issue regarding Carandang’s case is “a matter that is left to the courts to decide.”

Martires stand is a complete turnaround from his predecessor Conchita Carpio-Morales, who refused to enforce Malacañang’s earlier suspension order against Carandang.

The order of Malacañang originated from the complaint filed by lawyer Manuelito Luna, and suspended lawyer Eligio Mallari in October 2017.

The two accused Carandang of corruption for causing “undue injury to any party, including the government,” as well as for giving “unwarranted benefits” through “manifest partiality” and for “divulging valuable information of a confidential character.”

Carandang was recorded in a media interview where he was quoted as saying that his office had already received the bank transaction records of the president’s family from 2006 to 2016 from the Anti-Money Laundering Council—a statement that was later denied by the money laundering watchdog.

Carandang in his answer to the complaint has maintained that his office “has observed confidentiality” in the probe into the President and his family’s bank transactions.

Question of constitutionality

Last January Malacañang handed down a 90 day preventive suspension against Carandang after it decided that he has committed grave dishonesty for misuse of confidential information and disclosing false information, under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

But Morales, citing the Supreme Court case ruling on Gonzales III v Office of the President (OP), said that the suspension order was “patently unconstitutional.”

The doctrine that was laid in that case states that it  “illegal (for an) administrative disciplinary jurisdiction of the president over deputy ombudsmen. The SC ruled that Section 8(2) of RA 6770 or The Ombudsman Act of 1989 was unconstitutional by granting discplinary jurisdiction to the president over a deputy ombudsman as it violates the independence of the Office of the Ombudsman.

“The ombudsman will thus not allow herself to betray her sworn duty to uphold the Constitution by recognizing what is patently unconstitutional,” a statement from the office of Morales said last January.

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