Malacanang on Wednesday maintained that Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang has to file his answer on a 90-day preventive suspension slapped against him by the Office of the President (OP).
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made this reaction following Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales’ refusal to implement the suspension order against Carandang.
“The Office of the President has given Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang 10 days to file his answer on the “Resolution and Order,” Roque said in a press statement.
Roque insisted that it is “incumbent upon” Carandang to submit his answer within the 10-day period which is set to end on February 9.
“After the lapse of the period provided, the Office of the President shall decide on the matter,” Roque explained.
The Office of the Executive Secretary had charged and suspended Carandang for allegedly committing grace misconduct and dishonesty “for misuse of confidential information and disclosing false information” on the alleged bank records of President Rodrigo Duterte and his family.
Morales claimed that the OP’s suspension issued against Carandang was “a clear affront to the Supreme Court and an impairment of the Constitutionally enshrined independence of the Office of the Ombudsman.”
The Ombudsman was referring to SC en banc’s 2014 decision on Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzales III vs. Office of the President, declaring unconstitutional the administrative disciplinary jurisdiction of the President over deputy ombudsmen.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, however, believed that Carandang’s suspension is “presumed to be valid and legal” until a competent court declares it unconstitutional.
Panelo explained the circumstances of Carandang’s suspension differ from Gonzales’ case.
“Every official act is accorded with presumption of regularity. Until a competent court declares that such official ac is in violation of the law and Constitution, President Rodrigo Duterte’s order of preventive suspension from office of Deputy Ombudsman Carandang is presumed to be valid and legal,” Panelo said.
“It behooves therefore, the public official authorized to implement the order to enforce the same against respondent Carandang. Any willful refusal to do so or any deliberate act impeding such enforcement may open the said official to administrative and criminal sanctions,” he added.
Panelo said President Duterte had no intention to intrude upon the independence of the Office of the Ombudsman.
He said the President was just protecting and preserving the Constitutional article on public accountability as clearly stated in Section 1, Article XI of the Constitution which provides: “Public office is a public trust.”
“Thus, President is just adhering to his mandate to ensure that all laws are faithfully executed, including the Constitution,” Panelo said.
“To be clear, the implementation of check-and-balances in government and the enforcement of public accountability is not incongruent with the respect of Constitutionally-guaranteed independence,” he added.
Panelo said Carandang was free to question his suspension order before the courts if the latter believed his suspension was unconstitutional.
“In the meantime, the suspension should be implemented by the Office of the President. Otherwise, its officials risk violating the same legal process that they assume to adhere to,” he said. (PNA)
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