Ombudsman junks Trillanes' plunder case vs. Duterte

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 13) — The Ombudsman has junked the plunder case against President Rodrigo Duterte, the Solicitor General said Tuesday.

Sources from the Office of the Ombudsman told CNN Philippines the investigation ended because of insufficiency of evidence and lack of merit.

This was first revealed by Solicitor General Jose Calida in a press briefing. He said Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Carandang sent him a letter stating that the plunder complaint filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes against Duterte "was already closed and terminated as early as November 29, 2017."

"It means there is no evidence to support that complaint," he said.

CNN Philippines obtained a copy of Carandang's letter to Calida dated February 12.

It stated: "Based on the record, the recommendation to terminate the investigation was approved by Deputy Ombudsman Cyril E. Ramos."

Carandang, however, refused to grant Calida's request for a copy of Trillanes' complaint and its attachments, citing confidentiality.

Calida said he asked the Office of the Ombudsman for an update to the case as the government's top lawyer.

"Because I am the lawyer of the president, I am the lawyer of the Republic, it is my duty to protect my client," he said.

Calida also said he has no clue as to why the Ombudsman did not disclose the development to the public.

On May 5, 2016, Trillanes filed a plunder complaint against Duterte, then Davao City mayor and presidential candidate.

Trillanes, one the President's staunchest critics, alleged Duterte has ghost employees on the payroll of the Davao City government. Based on the 2015 Commission on Audit (COA) report, there were 11,000 ghost employees with a budget of P708 million, he said.

Trillanes alleged this is the source of Duterte's hidden wealth, which he supposedly discovered in his bank accounts.

Calida said Trillanes' claims were "garbage," and asked the Senate to not proceed with any probe on Duterte's wealth.

READ: SolGen to Senate: Stop probe on Duterte's wealth

But Trillanes stood by his claims.

"If what I have is nothing but garbage, then why are they panicking?" he said in a statement.

He said Duterte should finally sign a waiver to let the Senate open his bank accounts.

"If I am wrong in my allegations then I would resign immediately as Senator and voluntarily walk in any jail of his choice," he added.

The President has refused to sign a waiver but repeatedly denied Trillanes allegations, throwing back accusations that the senator has offshore bank accounts.

CNN Philippines' Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.