OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio-Morales has vowed not to enforce the Malacañang order to suspend her deputy, saying the order was a clear affront to the Supreme Court and the constitution, as well as a violation of the independence of the Office of the Ombudsman.

Morales, a retired Supreme Court associate justice who was appointed Ombudsman in 2011, said in a statement issued on Wednesday that the high tribunal had already declared that the Office of the President’s administrative disciplinary jurisdiction did not apply to her office.

“Like any government official, the Ombudsman has sworn to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the land.


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The Ombudsman will thus not allow herself to betray her sworn duty to uphold the Constitution by recognizing what is patently unconstitutional as ordained by the Supreme Court en banc in Gonzales III v. Office of the President (G.R. No. 196231, 28 January 2014),” Morales said in a statement.

“In Gonzales III, the Supreme Court categorically declared unconstitutional the administrative disciplinary jurisdiction of the President over deputy ombudsmen. The Ombudsman cannot, therefore, seriously place at risk the independence of the very Office which she has pledged to protect on the strength of the constitutional guarantees which the high court has upheld,” she said.

“It has become clear that the act of the Office of the President in taking cognizance of the complaints against the Overall Deputy Ombudsman and ordering his preventive suspension was not an inadvertent error but a clear affront to the Supreme Court and an impairment of the constitutionally enshrined independence of the Office of the Ombudsman,” Morales added.

“In a society founded on the rule of law, the arbitrary disregard of a clearly worded jurisprudence coupled with a confident stance that it will be changed should never be countenanced.”

Malacañang earlier formally charged Carandang for supposedly leaking confidential information on President Rodrigo Duterte’s bank transactions, and placed him under a 90-day preventive suspension.

The matter stemmed from the plunder complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman by Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th against then Davao City mayor Duterte on May 5, 2016.

‘Presumption of regularity’

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Ombudsman Morales should enforce the suspension handed down by the Office of the President to her deputy.

In a television interview on Wednesday, Panelo said any official who defies the presidential order would “open themselves to criminal and administrative acts”.

“Every official act is accorded the presumption of regularity until a court has declared that the act is in violation of the law,” he said. “Any public official who will willfully impede the enforcement of the same will open themselves to criminal and administrative acts.”

Panelo also said it was up to Carandang to respond to his suspension.

“It’s for the Deputy Ombudsman to respond,” he said. “As far as we are concerned, the act of the President is valid unless a competent court says otherwise.”


The Manila Times