MANILA- The government's top lawyer on Tuesday maintained that the President has the authority to discipline a deputy ombudsman following criticisms over Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang's suspension.
Calida, in a statement, said his office is ready to defend the position before the Supreme Court, which, in 2014, declared as unconstitutional a provision in the Ombudsman Act of 1989 granting the Office of the President the power to remove a deputy ombudsman.
“The Constitution is clear that only the Ombudsman is subject to impeachment proceedings. While silent as to the disciplinary authority over a Deputy Ombudsman, the subsequent enactment of the Ombudsman Act filled this gap and expressly granted the authority to the President,” he said.
Malacañang on Monday revealed it has filed 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.
The charges stemmed from a complaint filed by lawyers Manuelito Luna and Elijio Mallari.
Aside from the administrative complaint, Carandang has also been placed under 90 days preventive suspension.
The solicitor general insisted that the high court has also previously ruled that “the power to discipline is lodged in the same authority in the power to appoint is vested.”
The President appoints the Deputy Ombudsmen, as he does the Ombudsman.
“[M]y office is ready to defend the action of the Office of the President in suspending Carandang. We are confident that the Supreme Court will reverse its 2014 ruling,” Calida said.
Carandang, in an interview, claimed the Office of the Ombudsman received the bank transactions from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), a claim debunked by the council.
“It has neither provided the Office of the Ombudsman with any report as a consequence of any investigation of subject accounts for any purpose," the AMLC previously said.
Calida said Carandang “is free to seek redress before the competent court” to challenge the administrative case.