SolGen: Administrative Code allows Carandang's suspension

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Solicitor General Jose Calida. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 2) — The government's top lawyer says the 1987 Administrative Code allows the President, whose duty is to implement laws, to discipline public officials under the Executive Department.

Solicitor General Jose Calida offered this explanation on the suspension of Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Carandang despite existing jurisprudence saying it was unconstitutional.

"The President, in issuing the preventive suspension, merely filled the vacuum left by the Ombudsman, masquerade, and enforced accountability in public service," Calida said in a statement.

Calida cited the 1987 Administrative Code, which he says was referred to by Section 2, Article XI of the Constitution.

The Constitution states that the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office on impeachment.

But it adds, "All other public officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law," to which Calida refers to the 1987 Administrative Code.

Under Section 20, Chapter 7, Title 1, Book III, of the Code, "Unless Congress provides otherwise, the President shall exercise such other powers and functions vested in the President which are provided for under the laws and which are not specifically enumerated above, or which are not delegated by the President in accordance with law. "

Calida said the President is obligated to implement laws and enforce his authority to discipline government officials under the Executive Department.

Supreme Court (SC) Spokesperson earlier said that it is not within the President's powers to suspend a deputy ombudsman, citing the Gonzales vs. Office of the President ruling in 2014.

But Calida called out Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales' decision to disregard the suspension order against Carandang.

"One thing is clear: The Office of the Ombudsman Is not a fourth branch of government," the government's top lawyer said.

Morales said Wednesday it would not enforce the suspension order against Carandang, which was ordered by the Office of the President on Monday.

Carandang was suspended for supposedly falsifying information on President Rodrigo Duterte's bank accounts.

The Office of the Executive Secretary charged the Deputy Ombudsman with grave misconduct and grave dishonesty for misuse of confidential information and disclosing false information. This was in line with the complaint of Manuel Luna and Eligio Mallari filed in October 2017.

Last year, Carandang claimed he received a report from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) that Duterte's bank account had over ₱1 billion, but the AMLC, denied issuing any report.