Ombudsman should be open to any probe, Malacañang says

MANILA — Malacañang on Saturday said the Office of the Ombudsman should be open to any investigation of alleged corruption activities in the agency.

While the Palace recognizes the Ombudsman’s role in probing erring government officials, it said the anti-graft agency is not exempt from corruption allegations and should therefore be investigated.

“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,” said Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella in a statement.

“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.

President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed his plan to form a commission investigating corruption anomalies at the Office of the Ombudsman.

“The OMB should be open to any probe that would check into alleged corrupt practices amongst its officials to underscore that there are no sacred cows in the Government,” Abella said.

President Duterte declared his willingness to subject himself to the Ombudsman’s probe into his and his family’s alleged undisclosed wealth, saying that he has no problem allowing the anti-graft agency to open his books for scrutiny.

He, however, said the Ombudsman should likewise not be spared from inquiry.

The President said corruption practices also plague the agency, but it has so far dodged investigations because of its status as an independent body.

“In the name of public interest and in the name of justice and fair play, there ought to be a body who will investigate you also because the Ombudsman cannot investigate itself. Obviously, it is an anomaly,” Duterte said during his interview with Erwin Tulfo’s “Sa Totoo Lang” aired on state-run PTV 4 on Friday.

For her part, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said her office would still pursue its investigation into President Duterte’s and his family’s alleged hidden wealth.