Sen KIKO says Ombudsman Gutierrez should go on leave

04/03/2009 16:05

A Challenge to Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to take an indefinite leave

- By: Sen. Kiko Pangilinan


I challenge Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to take an indefinite leave as she faces an impeachment complaint filed against her by former Cabinet officials and leaders of civil society groups.

The 33-page impeachment complaint filed yesterday at the House of Representatives by former Senate President Jovito Salonga, former DILG Secretary Rafael Alunan III, former DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano Soliman, columnist Randy David, former Civil Service Commission chairperson Karina Constantino-David, former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani, Sister Mary John Mananzan, Leah Navarro of the Black and White Movement, members of the Former Senior Government Officials, and other civil society leaders cited, among others, Gutierrez’s “inaction, mishandling, or downright dismissal of clear cases of graft and corruption, some leading to the President herself or that of her closest associates.”

Gutierrez blames politics for the impeachment move, saying that the charges were “timely” because she had just ordered the filing of graft charges against former Bukidnon representative Neric Acosta, who now sits as Vice President of the oppositionist Liberal Party (LP).

She also accused Salonga, Chairman Emeritus of the LP, for being responsible for the loss of important documents on graft cases when the latter was Chairman of the Presidential Commission on God Government (PCGG).

I support the impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Gutierrez because of her inaction on certain high-profile cases which have become part of the Ombudsman’s “bullying tactics”.

She should take an indefinite leave effective immediately as the Ombudsman is only giving her critics even more ammunition by resorting to bullying tactics against her complainants. She should not be allowed to intimidate and threaten complainants using the power of her high office.

The Ombudsman and Malacañang seems to be reading from the same script with regard to this impeachment complaint. Malacañang says the Office of the Ombudsman should not be politicized; the Ombudsman says politics is behind this impeachment complaint. Malacañang says in this issue that we should respect our court processes; the Ombudsman says the courts and not Congress is the proper venue for these complaints.

It is a terrible spectacle for justice and the rule of law when the Ombudsman and Malacañang appear to be reading from the same script. It reinforces the view that Malacañang and the Ombudsman are in cahoots to prevent the truth and the rule of law from prevailing.

The perception arising from these delays is that the Ombudsman is biased in favor of the President and her family and closest allies.

We welcome the impeachment complaint as a means for the Ombudsman to explain the undue delay in so many cases brought before her office. The people deserve nothing less than transparency and accountability from their officials.

If the Ombudsman files a perjury case against these complainants, will a public prosecutor be courageous enough to decide the case on the merits, dismiss the case, and face the wrath of the powerful Ombudsman? If she has threatened to file cases against these complainants, what will stop her from threatening to file cases against a “hostile” prosecutor who refuses to decide in her favor?

Ombudsman Gutierrez should go on leave. Her acts have undermined her ability to perform with impartiality.