MANILA — Two senators on Thursday urged the Supreme Court (SC) to intervene and resolve the conflict between Malacañang and the Office of the Ombudsman over the suspension of Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Carandang.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon warned that there could be a constitutional crisis that could rise from the “clash” between Malacañang and the Ombudsman.
“The Supreme Court should immediately intervene. Otherwise, there could be a constitutional crises as there is a conflict and a clash between two independent constitutional offices — the President and the Ombudsman,” Drilon said in a press statement.
“Which interpretation is correct cannot be left to the President or the Ombudsman. The Supreme Court must rule as the final arbiter,” he added.
Drilon, a lawyer, says that if it believes that President Rodrigo Duterte can suspend Carandang, Malacañang can file a petition for mandamus with the Supreme Court to compel Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to implement his suspension.
Another option, Drilon said, was that Morales and Carandang could file a petition in the Supreme Court to set aside Malacañang’s suspension order.
This way they can seek a temporary restraining order on the ground it is contrary to the SC ruling in the Gonzales case, which voided the power of the President to discipline the Deputy Ombudsman.
Best course of action
Senator Francis Escudero, also a lawyer, echoed Drilon saying it was the “best course of action” on both parties.
Escudero said taking the case to the high tribunal would not exacerbate the dispute on jurisdiction and the enforcement of the suspension order.
“The Solicitor General, as the lawyer of the government, can bring the matter to the Supreme Court by filing a petition for mandamus/certiorari or the Ombudsman can bring it via an injunction/certiorari,” Escudero said.
“This is the legal, peaceful and best course of action on the part of either or both the government and the Ombudsman instead of sending the police to serve and effect the suspension order given the Ombudsman’s divergent interpretation of the law from that of government,” he added.
He, meanwhile, expressed hope that the SC could bring the issue to a close to prevent a constitutional crisis.
“The SC, as the final arbiter of all questions of law, has the power to decide between the competing interests or interpretations of the government and an independent constitutional body,” Escudero said.
On Monday, the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) formally charged Carandang with “grave misconduct and grave dishonesty for misuse of confidential information and disclosing false information” on the alleged bank transactions of the President and his family.
Carandang was also put under a 90-day preventive suspension.
Last September 2017, Carandang, who was tasked to investigate the alleged bank transactions of the First Family, confirmed to the media that the Ombudsman had received information on the alleged PHP1 billion bank transactions through the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
The AMLC, however, categorically denied that it was the source of the documents and information attached to the complaint filed by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV regarding Duterte’s alleged bank accounts.
Morales said that her office would not implement Malacañang’s suspension of Carandang calling it “a breach of the Ombudsman’s independence.” (PNA)