MANILA, Philippines — The order suspending Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Carandang is a “legal aberration” of the sort the Supreme Court has likened to a “lawless thing that can be treated as an outlaw and slain on sight or ignored wherever and whenever it exhibits its head,” an opposition lawmaker said.
Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said in a statement on Saturday that the suspension order, slapped on Carandang for disclosing what the Palace claims are fake documents on President Rodrigo Duterte’s supposed bank deposits, “continues the pattern of blatant disregard of the Duterte administration of the rule of law.”
President Rodrigo Duterte, Lagman warned, “cannot defy prevailing jurisprudence and law that deny the President the power to impose disciplinary sanctions on the Ombudsman’s deputies.”
Aside from the high court ruling in Gonzales vs. Office of the President in 2014, which declared unconstitutional Section 8(2) of the Ombudsman Law (RA No. 6770) which erroneously gave the President the power to dismiss the Ombudsman’s deputies, Lagman pointed out that Section 5 of Article XI of the 1987 Constitution mandates the creation of “the independent Office of the Ombudsman, composed of the Ombudsman to be known as Tanodbayan, one overall Deputy and at least one Deputy each for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. A separate Deputy for the military establishment may likewise be appointed.”
The Supreme Court also pronounced that “[w]hat is true for the Ombudsman must be equally and necessarily true for her Deputies who act as agents of the Ombudsman in the performance of their duties,” he said.
Thus, “as the Ombudsman’s agents, her deputies are accountable to her, not to the President,” Lagman stressed.