LAWYERS and former lawmakers filed a motion before the Office of the President on Friday to “bodily or physically remove” from office Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur H. Carandang, who has been accused of disclosing bank transactions of President Duterte and his family.

The motion was filed by lawyers Manuelito R. Luna and Eligio P. Mallari and former congressmen Jacinto V. Paras and Glenn A. Chong.

“If you recall, Carandang has divulged falsely the purported records of the President, where he alleged that it was taken from the AMLC [Anti-Money Laundering Council]. But later on, it was denied by AMLC that the records on the President’s bank deposits were taken from AMLC,” Mr. Paras told reporters in an interview on Friday morning.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte had ordered Mr. Carandang suspended in January, but Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales refused to comply with the order. Mr. Carandang was charged with grave misconduct and dishonesty for claiming that Mr. Duterte’s bank accounts amounted to P1 billion.

“If the Ombudsman will not follow the order of the Office of the President to suspend him…we suggested that he should be bodily removed. The Office of the President shall implement the suspension order bodily removing Carandang from the Office of the Ombudsman, to get him out as a suspended official,” Mr. Paras added.

As the commander-in-chief, the Office of the President “can always request or order the enforcement agencies, maybe the Philippine National Police (PNP) or the CIDG [Criminal Investigation and Detection Group]… unless there is a TRO [Temporary Restraining Order] from the court,” Mr. Paras explained.

The Office of the President should make their powers felt such that this will set as a deterrent for future public officials, he said.

For his part, Mr. Luna said that “we have to make sure that the rule of law is followed and that an example should be set.”

“Otherwise, [all] respondents [with a] preventive suspension just put a defense [that the order] is unconstitutional or [that they can question] the disciplinary action of the Office of the President,” Mr. Luna said. “Only a competent court can determine whether or not the order is constitutional or not.”

Asked about the legal basis of their motion, Mr. Luna argued that “the legal basis is the law itself. We believe that the power of the President to remove the Deputy Ombudsman and the Prosecutor is still a valid law passed by Congress.”— Arjay L. Balinbin