By: Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos
Malacañang said that the Ombudsman should be open to any probe to disprove allegations of corruption among its officials, employees, and personnel.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella recognized that the Ombudsman is an independent constitutional body but it is not exempt from corruption allegations.
“We recognize that the Office of the Ombudsman has the constitutional duty to probe erring government officials. As the protector of the people, the OMB is expected to act promptly on complaints filed against officers or employees of the government,” Abella said.
“The sad reality, however, is that the OMB is not exempt from allegations of corruption, which the President said, need to be investigated,” he added.
“The OMB should be open to any probe that would check into alleged corrupt practices amongst its officials and employees to underscore that there are no sacred cows in the government,” Abella added.
President Duterte has threatened to seek the arrest of Ombudsman officials who will refuse to cooperate with his proposed anti-corruption inquiry.
In an interview aired over PTV-4 Friday, Duterte said he cannot allow the government to be inutile and let alleged corruption at the Ombudsman go unchecked.
“I can create my own commission like the Agrava Commission and summon you,” Duterte said, referring to the commission established by President Ferdinand E. Marcos in October 1983 to investigate the killing of Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr. at the Manila International Airport – now the Ninoy Aquino International Airport – two months earlier.
“Now, ‘pag ayaw mo sumipot in obedience to that summon, I will move for your arrest – contempt of court. I will order the military or the police to arrest you,” Duterte added.
Duterte called on public servants who have “fallen victims” to the Ombudsman’s corruption to come forward and testify against erring personnel.
“Tell the Filipino the truth… you owe it to the Filipino, not to me,” Duterte said. “Now is the time na mag-resbak kayo. I will pin them down.”
The Ombudsman remained unfazed despite the threat of the President and said they would pursue the investigation on Duterte’s alleged ill-gotten wealth.
“Sorry, Mr. President but this office shall not be intimidated,” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said in a statement.
“The President’s announcement that he intends to form a commission to investigate the Ombudsman appears to be a retaliation to our on-going investigation. We will, nonetheless, proceed with the probe, as mandated by the Constitution,” she added.