MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he is planning to create a commission that would investigate alleged anomalies at the Office of the Ombudsman.
The President made his plan known after the anti-graft body confirmed that it has started looking into the Duterte family's bank transactions, prompted by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s allegations that he kept hidden wealth.
The President said the Office of the Ombudsman is a corrupt agency and that it was biased towards officials from the opposition when investigating cases.
“You’ll be investigated also. One of these days, kayo ang sigurado kong hahabulin dahil nga 'yung partiality niyo. Kapag hindi niyo imbestigahan ang sarili niyo, ako ang mag-set up ng commisison to investigate you as a President with investigating powers,” Duterte said in a recorded interview on state-run PTV4.
“Magkagulo tayo niyan kasi sino ang mag-imbestiga sa kalokohan niyo? What is the remedy of the Filipino kung kayo mag-sige hingi? Ako, huwag mo akong lokohin. Don’t force my hand into it,” the President said.
Earlier this week, Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang said the agency has obtained bank transaction documents of the President and his family from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
He said the Duterte family’s transactions amount to hundreds of millions of pesos from different banks between 2006 until 2016, but clarified that it would be difficult to identify the total amount of deposits since money went in and out of the accounts.
Carandang is leading the investigation after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales inhibited from the case since her nephew, Manases Carpio, is the husband of the President's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
Meanwhile, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Carandang may be held liable for divulging information on the Ombudsman’s investigation into the Duterte family’s wealth.
“Carandang has been disclosing details of the alleged bank records of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte purportedly obtained from the AMLC. We remind Carandang, however, that investigatory records compiled for law enforcement purposes to the extent that the production of such records deprives a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication should not be disclosed while the proceedings are ongoing,” Panelo said in a statement.
Under the law, the AMLC is the government agency that acts as the Philippines' financial intelligence unit and has the mandate to investigate suspicious transactions.
The Office of the Ombudsman has the authority to request records from any agency to verify the statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) filed by government officials including the President.
President Duterte has repeatedly denied accusations of hidden wealth, saying he only kept his inheritance from the sale of his late father’s properties.