Duterte's suspension of Deputy Ombudsman an impeachable offense – 1986 Con-Com member

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 5) — If President Rodrigo Duterte insists on suspending the Deputy Ombudsman by force without a Supreme Court ruling, it can become an impeachable offense, a constitutional expert said Monday.

Atty. Christian Monsod explained that the 2014 Supreme Court ruling says the President holds no disciplinary action over the Deputy Ombudsman still stands — and it will continue to be the law until the high court overturns the decision.

"If the Ombudsman refuses to enforce it, then the ball is in the court of the government to go to the Supreme Court," Monsod, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, told CNN Philippines' The Source.

When asked if the suspension order was impeachable, Monsod said yes, on account of "doing something that is contrary to law, and therefore a violation of his oath [as President]."

Malacanang Palace on January 29 announced the suspension of Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Carandang, citing grave misconduct and dishonesty for confirming an allegation that Duterte has over P1 billion in his bank account.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales refused to implement the suspension, citing the independence of her office.

The clash sparked a debate on whether the President can exercise disciplinary action over the position. Those who sided with Malacanang argued the 2014 decision was itself a reversal of a 2012 ruling that allowed the President to make such suspensions.

The Supreme Court reiterated the 2014 decision still stands and is "final, executory, and binding until it is set aside."

Related: SC Spokesman: President has no disciplinary power over Deputy Ombudsman

However, government officials continue to argue for the suspension.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Thursday that Carandang would have to seek and be granted a temporary restraining order for the suspension to be stopped.

"If (Carandang) wants to go to court... let him. But we will not go to court, because our reading is the Office of the President has the power to discipline him," said Roque.

Last year, Carandang said he received a report from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) that Duterte's bank account had over P1 billion, but the AMLC denied issuing any report.

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.

"It's especially notable that the President in this case is not protecting a subordinate, but seems to be protecting himself," said Monsod.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Ina Andolong and digital producer Chad de Guzman contributed to this story.