MANILA, Philippines — An opposition lawmaker on Monday said the preventive suspension issued by President Rodrigo Duterte against Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Carandang is illegal and does not enjoy a presumption of regularity.
In a statement, Albay representative Edcel Lagman said that Duterte has no authority to discipline Ombudsman and its deputies unless the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court en banc in Gonzales III v. Office of the President case in 2014 was reversed.
“Without the said decision being first overturned, President Duterte is obliged to enforce and uphold its validity and efficacy, not to subvert it by suspending ODO Carandang,” Lagman said.
Earlier, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo insisted that Duterte has the “valid and legal” jurisdiction to direct the suspension of Carandang unless a court rules such act as a violation of the law and the Constitution.
“Until a competent court declares that such official act is in violation of the law and the Constitution, President Rodrigo Duterte’s order of preventive suspension from office of Deputy Ombudsman Carandang is presumed to be valid and legal,” Panelo said.
“The President’s apologists, like adviser Panelo, are grossly mistaken when they assert that the suspension of Carandang enjoys the presumption of regularity,” Lagman added.
It can be recalled that the Office of the President ordered the suspension of Carandang for supposed illegal investigation on the bank details of the presidential family.
However, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said the preventive suspension released against Carandang was a “clear affront” to the Supreme Court and “impairment” of the independence of the Office of the Ombudsman.
Morales also maintained that she would not enforce the order, claiming the president has no authority to do such as cited on a ruling of SC on 2014 declaring Section 8 (2) ng Republic Act 6770 or the Ombudsman law “unconstitutional.”
On the other hand, Solicitor General Jose Calida defended Duterte, saying that the president still has the authority to control a deputy Ombudsman despite the existing decision of the court.
Meanwhile, Atty. Christian Monsod, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, said the suspension of Carandang without the decision of the SC is an impeachable offense.
“If the Ombudsman refuses to enforce it, then the ball is in the court of the government to go to the Supreme Court,” Monsod said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source.
“Doing something that is contrary to law, and therefore a violation of his oath,” he added.