Liar Deputy Ombudsman Carandang must be fired, and criminally charged

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DON’T we have the rule of law anymore, that ranking government officials lie, violate the law, and even flaunt their crimes in media?

Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang made the following statements to media on September 26:

• That he and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales have “a copy of bank records from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC)” of President Duterte and his family. These contained “entries, presentations, sources, transaction dates, amounts, and family members ‘names,” Carandang said, as reported by the website

• That Duterte and his family’s bank records show transactions through the years amounting to P1 billion.

As reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (September 24, 2017), Carandang also said: “We can confirm that we received bank transactions coming from AMLC, generated by AMLC for intelligence purposes.” He claimed that the “bank records” that Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th gave the Ombudsman “more or less have the same details” as the AMLC data. GMA News published similar statements of Carandang.

Brazen lies
The day after Carandang’s allegations were published, the AMLC released a statement that Carandang’s claims were brazen lies, that there were no such AMLC data, and that it gave no such reports to him.

Carandang perhaps forgot that the Anti Money Laundering Council has a new chair, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor Nestor Espenilla, and that the Yellow Cult can no longer push it around or have it remain silent to be exploited for its propaganda purposes, as it did during President Aquino’s administration.

When BSP governor Amando Tetangco headed it, the AMLC just remained silent in the two episodes when its alleged data were released to the public, which were black propaganda that spelled the doom of two respected figures.

Overall Deputy Ombudsman Carandang and his boss Carpio-Morales. AMLC says he lied. She claims he has the documents that the AMLC says don’t exist.

This occurred, first, at Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment trial when Carpio-Morales with dramatic flair claimed AMLC data showed that he had $12 million in his bank accounts. She said that then AMLC Executive Director Vicente Aquino gave the data to her. That was the fatal blow that led to the Senate impeachment court’s guilty verdict—even if the $12 million figure was totally false, and was the sum of bank transactions for nearly a decade.

The second episode was at the height of the election campaign in March 15, 2016 when the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that it had a copy of a 62-page report from the AMLC that, according to the newspaper, “found that Binay [made]billions of pesos from infrastructure projects while he was mayor of Makati City and used the amount coursed through dummies to fund his campaign in the 2010 elections.” That was a major blow that helped wreck Binay’s bid for the presidency in the 2016 elections.

AMLC silent then
In both cases the AMLC— which is headed by the BSP governor and the heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Insurance Commission—remained silent, letting those lies be uncorrected. In both episodes, when I tried to get Tetangco’s comment on the alleged AMLC reports, his public relations consultant Max Edralin told me he was out of town.

Perhaps Carandang forgot that it is no longer Tetangco who heads the AMLC, and that it is a new government now. Important also is that after the executive director, Vicente Aquino, retired, one Julia Bacay-Abad became its executive director, replaced by Mel Georgie Racela only last August 31, 2017.

The day after Carandang’s allegations against Duterte were published, the AMLC in its website released an official statement, which said that the deputy ombudsman was lying through his teeth:

“The Anti-Money Laundering Council Secretariat received on 06 September 2017 the 17 August 2017 letter of Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang, requesting it to initiate investigation on subject accounts.

We have categorically stated before that the AMLC is not the source of the documents and information attached by Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV in his complaint, regarding the alleged bank accounts of President Rodrigo Duterte. It has neither provided the Office of the Ombudsman with any report as a consequence of any investigation of subject accounts for any purpose.

We have yet to evaluate the request, and the initiation of an investigation, as well as the release of any report on the subject will depend on such evaluation. Suffice it to state that in the attachment to the complaint, the alleged debits and credits representing outflows and inflows of funds were added together, thus, the resulting total amounts are wrong and misleading. “

The AMLC statement was really such a bombshell that I cannot understand why it wasn’t e newspapers’ banner headline for that day.

How could the No. 2 official in a crucial agency tasked to rid the nation of corruption so brazenly lie that the AMLC gave him confidential information that painted the Chief Executive of the country as a big grafter? How could the head of the agency itself, Ombudsman Morales, back up what is indubitably a lie?

For being caught so wantonly lying, Carandang, if he has an ounce of decency left in him, should resign. So should Morales. Since she says that what Carandang said was true, that he has the AMLC report, then she is also lying.

Morales in effect may have given information that could be the basis for filing criminal charges against Carandang. In her statement posted in the Ombudsman’s office, Morales said: “As to the documents in its possession, the office stands by its word.” But the AMLC has said it didn’t release such documents to Carandang.

These documents are bank records, which are confidential, which make Carandang liable under the Bank Secrecy Law for possessing them – which Morales confirms that he possesses.

The two have so degraded the Office of the Ombudsman, designed to be our hope to rid the country of corruption, that it has been made it into a black-propaganda weapon to oust the President of the Republic by creating false public outrage against him. They have all but destroyed the institution.

Yellow point man
Such degradation isn’t unexpected, as Carandang appears to be the Yellow Cult’s point man in the Office of the Ombudsman, handpicked by Aquino to be the No. 2 man in a hectic agency headed by a septuagenarian. A cousin of Aquino’s former communications officer, Ricky Carandang, he was appointed Overall Deputy Ombudsman by Aquino in 2013, leap-frogging the much-longer-serving 24 other deputy and assistant ombudsmen. My sources in the Ombudsman’s Office claim that the 76-year-old Carpio-Morales has let Carandang practically run the agency, and to lead its efforts to dig up dirt against Duterte and his family

If Carandang refuses to step down, Duterte must fire him, as President Aquino in 2011 fired then Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzales 3rd. Let the Supreme Court deliberate again its split decision on that case that such action is unconstitutional.

Carandang’s claims, and the AMLC’s statement that he is lying, lead to shocking conclusions.

The AMLC says it received the request early September to investigate Duterte’s accounts, but had not acted on it. Yet Carandang less than a month later claims the agency has given him its report that Duterte and his family have P1 billion in their bank accounts.

Doesn’t this indicate that the Ombudsman and Trillanes (who had earlier made such allegations about the President’s hidden wealth) are in a conspiracy to create public outrage against the President, in the same way that Carpio-Morales did in the case of Corona?

Sources disclosed that a ranking former official of the AMLC who has a surname similar to a notorious Yellow Cult official illegally gave Morales, Carandang and Trillanes bank data on Duterte’s supposed wealth before she left the agency, which she exaggerated to please her bosses. She must be investigated for this.

Scandalous ignorance
In his statements, Carandang demonstrated a scandalous ignorance of the country’s bank-secrecy and anti-money laundering laws.

Ombudsman Morales’ acquisition of Corona’s bank records in 2012 was illegal. The Ombudsman is not authorized by any law to ask the AMLC to look into someone’s bank records and provide it with such data.

The Anti Money Laundering Law’s implementing rules says that such investigation can be done in only two cases.

First, when the Court of Appeals orders the AMLC to do so, on the basis of probable cause of criminal activity. The second case is when the AMLC—the council and not just its executive director as Vicente Aquino did in the Corona case—orders such an investigation, after it has established that there is probable cause that the bank accounts were related to the heinous crimes of kidnapping for ransom, illegal drug operations, hijacking and arson. If only for ignorance of the law, Carandang must be kicked out of his post.

He must be also be criminally charged for willful violation of the Anti Money Laundering Law.

The law’s Rule 14.c entitled “Penalties for Malicious Reporting” provides:

“Any person who, with malice, or in bad faith, reports or files a completely unwarranted or false information relative to money laundering transaction against any person shall be subject to a penalty of six months to four years imprisonment and a fine of not less than P100,000.”

Isn’t it an open-and-shut case that Carandang maliciously reported false information on the bank holdings of Duterte and his family?

Don’t we have the rule of law anymore?