Ombudsman confirms junking Trillanes’ plunder case vs Duterte

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DAVAO CITY, PHILIPPINES- The Office of the Ombudsman confirmed that the fact-finding or field investigation on the complaints filed against President Rodrigo Duterte was closed and terminated on 29 November 2017 after the Anti-Money Laundering Council declined to provide a report or confirmation on the requested vital data.

Senator Antonio Trillanes filed a plunder case against Duterte on May 5, 2016, Duterte was still Davao City mayor and presidential candidate.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales in a statement said By rule, “[a] closed and terminated field investigation is without prejudice to the refiling of a complaint with new or additional evidence.

Morales confirmed ”the plunder complaint filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes against Duterte “was already closed and terminated as early as November 29, 2017.”

But no one knew it was terminated until Solicitor General Jose Calida held a press conference on February 12, 2018.

Calida said with the Ombudsman terminating the plunder case against Duterte “It means there is no evidence to support that complaint.”

A CNN report said “Based on the record, the recommendation to terminate the investigation was approved by Deputy Ombudsman Cyril E. Ramos.”

In a press statement from the Office of the Ombudsman, it stressed that Morales knew about the termination from the press briefing of Solicitor General Jose Calida that he has been informed of the closure and termination of the investigation, through a 12 February 2018 letter-response to his letter-inquiry dated 8 February 2018 addressed to Overall Deputy Ombudsman (ODO) Melchor Arthur Carandang.

The Solicitor General raised certain questions which may be answered by his own declarations, Morales added.

Calida asked why the Ombudsman kept quiet about the matter. But the Ombudsman answered “Oddly, he himself pointed out that the Ombudsman had inhibited herself from the investigation.”

The Ombudsman’s statement added “The Solicitor General might want to consider whether it is proper for an official who inhibited from an investigation to remain involved therein. The Ombudsman posits that it is not.”

In keeping therewith, the investigation was given free rein and proceeded without her intervention, the Ombudsman explained.

Morales emphasized “In fact, the Ombudsman learned about such closure and termination only on 29 January 2018, upon an inquiry on the status thereof after learning that ODO Carandang was formally charged and placed under preventive suspension by the Office of the President.”

The Ombudsman trusts that in the conduct of fact-finding investigations, efforts are exhausted to gather evidence and to comply with pertinent internal rules.

Fact-finding investigations, under the rules, are generally confidential in nature. The Office is not obliged to inform the subject of the fact-finding investigation about its outcome, it added.

Finally, Morales said her office observes that the Solicitor General effectively recognized Carandang as the Overall Deputy Ombudsman through his official letter-inquiry dated 8 February 2018 addressed to ODO Carandang who, at such date, had been “supposedly” under preventive suspension. -Editha Z. Caduaya/Newsline.ph

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