Head of Philippine Anti-graft Agency Defies Duterte Order

Head of a Philippine anti-graft agency, Conchita Carpio Morales, who is investigating President Rodrigo Duterte for corruption, has defied his order to suspend the Deputy Ombudsman for allegedly sharing confidential and misleading information about his wealth, Rappler reported Thursday.

 

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a message upon his arrival at the Francisco Bangoy International AirportPresident Rodrigo Duterte (Public Domain)Morales has called the order for a 90-day suspension of Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang “patently unconstitutional,” calling upon a 2014 Supreme Court ruling in which disciplinary power of the president over deputy ombudsmen was declared unconstitutional. Morales claims the order would threaten the constitutionally protected independence of her agency to investigate alleged corruption in the government.

Morales, who is a former Supreme Court justice known for her no-tolerance for corruption and consistent enforcement of the rule of law, has headed the investigation sparked by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s complaint in May 2016 alleging that P2.4 billion (US$46.5 million) worth of deposits in Duterte's account came from a scheme of employment fraud in Davao City.

According to the Ombudsman, Duterte’s bank records were released to the investigative body by the Anti-Money Laundering Council that show millions of pesos moving into joint accounts with his children during his time as mayor of Davao City, according to the Associated Press.

Duterte has denied any wrongdoing and has stated he would resign if evidence of corruption is found.

The Council later claimed it did not provide the information and that figures were misrepresented.

The suspension was issued on charges of grave misconduct and disclosing false information, which a government spokesperson said was within the President’s right to issue. The Duterte government has also stated that without a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court, it will enforce the suspension.

"This is another Duterte tactic that's meant to bully democratic institutions into submission so he could go on with his dictatorial and corrupt ways," Senator Trillanes said.