Plunder probe against Duterte ongoing :: Anything is possible – Ombudsman .

Plunder probe is continuing.

PIcs courtesy and facebook

PIcs courtesy and

The Ombudsman of the Philippines, Ms Conchita Carpio Morales has been silently continuing the investigation against the current President of the Philippines in the complaint that was lodged against him by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV; this was disclosed by the Ombudsman herself on Friday.
She also indicated that the complaint of plunder was being investigated even though, per se, no action can be taken or contemplated against the current President since his position provided him total immunity from arrest or any such actions.

The Ombudsman was addressing newsmen after an address that was directed at the difficult times that the nation was passing through; she decried the conditions that were going from bad to worse. The address was delivered at the homecoming of the Law alumni of the Philippines College of Law.
She reiterated her earlier stand and informed them that the investigations, that started while Duterte was not yet declared President during May 2016. She also went on to narrate the reasons why she did not take action to stop the proceedings against the sitting President even though he was declared the winner of the Presidential elections.

The case

The allegations that were being probed by the Ombudsman, Ms Conchita Carpio Morales, pertain to the events on May 5 earlier this year under which Senator Antonio Trillanes IV had leveled allegations of severe corruption on the Presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte who had declared in public during the election campaign that he will rid the nation of corruption, criminals and drug-pushers.

This was the plank, riding on which, there was a virtual rout of all the other candidates with the elections reduced to a one-horse race. All the polls depicted a landslide victory for Duterte which he achieved without much of a sweat.

But, in the run-up to the elections, on May 5 to be precise, Senator Trillanes threw a bombshell making accusations of outright corruption on Duterte who was the leading candidate by then.

The allegation was simple; it was claimed by Senator Trillanes that, during his tenure as the Mayor of Davao City during 2014, Rodrigo Duterte had caused the appointment to be made of 11,000 employees that did not actually exist and were only shown as hired and paid wages without any records being kept of such appointments or the employees. The report was based on the findings of a Commission of Audit who had pointed out the discrepancies in the
functioning of the Davao City hall during 2014.

In effect, there was no proper documentation or any records to show that the work had actually been done.

It was further clarified by senator Trillanes and the Audit report that the amount paid to these Ghost-employees was P708 million which was a pure loss to the exchequer since the transactions were alleged to be fake.

This ill-gotten wealth was stated to be the source of the hidden wealth that President Duterte had amassed through such corrupt means, it was alleged; that is why this matter was referred to the Ombudsman for investigating and finding out the truth in the allegations made.

She went on to explain that the complaint to the Ombudsman had been preferred by the complainant Senator barely four days before the elections were scheduled to be held on May 9th 2016. Since the immunity that is allowed to the president from any legal actions is applicable only when he assumes office, the Ombudsman did not have any option but to accept the complaint and order further investigations for fact-finding and action thereupon.

Such important cases involving members of the house, the Commission of Audit and the President of the Philippines are normally treated with the urgency that they deserve. Hence, an investigation was ordered as soon as the matter was registered with her office.

And, though a suit is what the President has immunity against while he is in office, there is surely a possibility that the ongoing investigations may unearth allegations that make it a fit case for impeachment of the President which is allowed under law.

But, she continued, the proof against the President will have to be analyzed to determine whether the strength of the proof is enough to warrant impeachment of the incumbent President under the Constitution of the Philippines.

She also declared that she had kept herself aloof from the case since she had a close relationship to Duterte; she happens to be the aunt of Sara Duterte the current Mayor of Davao City. When questioned about the possibility of Duterte being accused of extra judicial killings, she just mentioned that anything is possible.

She hit the nail on the head when she opposed the people’s blind faith in leaders who could not themselves decide between right and wrong.

Umrao Singh

Written for: Lars-Magnus Carlsson Monday, 28 November 2016