MANILA- Some House minority lawmakers on Tuesday denounced as illegal the suspension of Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang.
Lawmakers Antonio Tinio, Tom Villarin, and Gary Alejano blasted Malacañang's move to file an administrative case against Carandang for grave misconduct and grave dishonesty for his supposed illegal disclosure of the President and his family’s bank transactions.
Aside from the administrative complaint, Carandang has also been placed under 90 days preventive suspension.
"Malacañang is deliberately violating existing jurisprudence by issuing a suspension order against Deputy Ombudsman Carandang," Tinio said in a statement.
Villarin labeled Carandang's suspension as a proof of the Palace's "hypocrisy" in fighting corruption.
"The joyful willingness by which Malacanang suspended a constitutional officer regardless of jurisprudence and constitutional independence of the office shows its true colors when corruption involves the powers-that-be," he said.
Alejano expressed hopes that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales will defend Carandang.
"I hope that the Office of the Ombudsman finds courage and will not be silenced in spite of attempts to curtail their capacity to perform their mandate as a vanguard against corruption," he said.
“This action of Malacanang is a clear case of intimidation to an independent body in order to cover the tracks of the President. It destroys the very concept of 'independence' of the Ombudsman which insulates it from political pressures and allows it to perform its mandate," he added.
Solicitor General Jose Calida earlier said he is ready to defend the Palace's decision before the Supreme Court, as he maintained that the President has the authority to discipline a deputy ombudsman.
Calida also noted that Carandang “is free to seek redress before the competent court” to challenge the administrative case.