Officials in the Ombudsman's office accused of corruption and bias in probe into Duterte's wealth

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 3) — Lawyers from anti-crime groups filed on Tuesday an administrative complaint against two officials in the Office of the Ombudsman for being biased in the investigation of President Rodrigo Duterte's wealth.

In a complaint to the Office of the Executive Secretary at the Malacanang Palace, the lawyers said Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang and Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Rodolfo Elman should be dismissed for graft and corruption and betrayal of public trust.

They cited Republic Act 6770, or the Ombudsman Act of 1989, which states that "a Deputy or the Special Prosecutor, may be removed from office by the President for any of the grounds provided for the removal of the Ombudsman, and after due process."

The complaint was filed by Manuelito Luna, legal counsel of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, and Eligio Mallari, president of the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc. Both  groups support President Duterte's administration and its policies.

The two said Carandang caused "undue injury" to some parties, including the government, by showing partiality in his probe and  divulging  valuable information.  They also said Carandang falsely and maliciously stated that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) had issued a report disclosing Duterte's bank records, a claim denied by the body.

"Elman co-opted or conspired with Carandang, and is equally liable for graft and corruption or betrayal of public trust as the latter," the complaint said.

It cited other members of the fact-finding team and field investigation unit of the Office of the Ombudsman in Mindanao for gross misconduct.

"The mere possession of the bank records and documents is a crime in itself as well as constitutes gross misconduct," the lawyers  said.

Mallari was one of two complainants who filed an impeachment case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno earlier this year. However, this was junked by the justice committee of the House of Representatives for insufficiency in form.

The administrative complaint against the Ombudsman's officials comes after Duterte accused Sereno and Morales of corruption, and urged them both to resign with him.

READ: Duterte: I won’t submit to Ombudsman’s authority in wealth probe

Carandang on September 28 said the Ombudsman's office had started a probe on Duterte's wealth in response to a complaint of plunder filed by Duterte critic, Senator Antonio Trillanes, during the 2016 presidential campaign.

"Carandang has blindly sided with Senator Trillanes and is biased against the President. He has indulged in favoritism as well as tyrannically abused his power," the administrative complaint said.

Morales has delegated cases involving the Duterte family to Carandang after inhibiting herself from these, as she is an aunt of Manases Carpio, husband of presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

The President on September 28 said he would form a commission to probe alleged partiality and corruption in the Ombudsman's office, which is a constitutional body outside the President's investigative powers.