President Duterte has punished an anti-graft prosecutor accused of leaking his bank records after an opposition politician accused him of corruption.
When he was still a presidential candidate, Duterte was accused of unlawfully failing to disclose 211 million pesos in secret bank accounts. The 2016 complaint was lodged with the office of the Ombudsman, the anti-corruption prosecutor.
The president has consistently denied the allegation. Today (Monday, January 29) his spokesman Harry Roque said the president’s chief aide had suspended the deputy ombudsman, Melchor Arthur Carandang, for three months.
The Ombudsman’s office is yet to issue any comment on the matter.
Carandang told a local television station last year that the Ombudsman had been “quietly investigating” Duterte and his family’s bank transactions since 2016.
The probe followed a complaint filed by Senator Antonio Trillanes, a staunch critic of the president.
Trillanes had alleged Duterte embezzled government funds and engaged in other illegal activities while he was Mayor of Davao.
In the only comment it has made on the case, the central bank’s Anti-Money Laundering Council said following Carandang’s television comments that it had received a request from the Ombudsman “regarding the alleged bank accounts of President Rodrigo Duterte”.
It said the request concerned information provided to the Ombudsman by Trillanes and that it had yet to evaluate it.
All government officials including the president must by law disclose their assets and liabilities each year to help prevent corruption.
Roque said Carandang was being suspended after two individuals filed an administrative case against him for alleged violations of the country’s corruption law.
The complaint alleged Carandang had committed “grave misconduct and grave dishonesty” for the “misuse of confidential information and disclosing false information”, Roque added.
Senator Trillanes said today that the president was violating the constitution, because the special prosecutor is an independent official who cannot be sanctioned by the chief executive.
“Clearly this is another Duterte tactic that’s meant to bully democratic institutions into submission so he could go on with his dictatorial and corrupt ways,” Trillanes said in a statement.