Palace to seek SC ruling on probe vs Duterte

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 06 2017 11:16 AM

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo is set to question before the Supreme Court a provision in the law that allows the President to undergo investigation for the purposes of filing an impeachment complaint.

"I intend to file a petition with the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of that provision because it circumvents the doctrines of immunity of a sitting president," Panelo said in an interview on DZMM on Friday morning.

Last month, Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang confirmed the Office of the Ombudsman is looking into the bank transactions of President Rodrigo Duterte and his family, which allegedly amount to hundreds of millions of pesos.

The investigation is connected with Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV's allegations that the President kept hidden wealth.

President Duterte has denied the allegations, saying he is willing to produce his account to prove he only has P40 million.

The President has declared total assets less total liabilities of P27,428,862.44 as of end-2016, or an increase of over P3.3 million (14 percent) from the P24,080,094.04 he declared in June 2016.

In the interview, Panelo said the Ombudsman investigation is hampering Duterte's efforts to run the government efficiently.

"Sa aking pananaw doon, hindi nila dapat iniimbestigahan even under Republic Act 6713, sinasabi roon na pwedeng imbestigahan ang presidente for purposes of filing an impeachment complaint," said Panelo. Republic Act 6713 is the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

"Tingnan mo ang nangyayari ngayon, iniimbestigahan siya. Sa halip na mag-concentrate siya sa kanyang trabaho, he has to defend himself and his family. Maiistorbo siya, masisira diskarte niya," he said.

He added, "Mag-antay na lang sila ng tenure niya saka sila magdemanda."

However, Panelo could not give an exact date on when he is going to file his petition.

"Pag-aaralan pa natin," he said.

On Thursday, President Duterte signed an Executive Order creating the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission in a bid to rid government of corrupt public officials. The commission was formed a week after Duterte vowed to create a body that would investigate alleged corruption at the Office of the Ombudsman.

Panelo said the commission will include a chairman and four members and would be recommendatory in nature.

“Mag-imbestiga at mag-recommend sa Presidente kung anong gagawin doon sa respondent either reprimand, suspension or dismissal,” he said.

He said the new commission will not investigate impeachable officials such as the Ombudsman.