MANILA (March 11)– With an impeachment complaint filed against her at the House of Representatives, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez may actually have few months left in office before her case is heard. That is if opposition Sen. Francis Escudero’s interpretation of the constitution and a Supreme Court ruling were correct.
According to the senator, Gutierrez does not have a full term of office since she was appointed to the unexpired term of former Simeon Marcelo who resigned in November 2005. He said Marcelo served as Ombudsman for three years and Gutierrez’s term is close to four years.
“It is the Office of the Ombudsman that has a fixed term of seven years, not the person occupying it,” he said, adding that “…under the Constitution, the Ombudsman and his or her deputies shall only serve for seven years without the benefit of reappointment in the same position.”
Escudero, who is a member of the Judicial Bar Council (JBC), cited the Constitution to support his claim and a Supreme Court ruling in 1955. The Court’s ruling clarified a casual vacancy and the necessity to fill such office for the unexpired term until the time comes for filling the office in the regular mode and at the regular time prescribed by the Constitution.
He said this fits Gutierrez’s case. “Therefore, to say that Gutierrez has only until October 2009 to serve as Ombudsman rests on firm and solid legal basis. This is a Supreme Court decision and all of us must follow the rule of law.”
Updated from PDM Newsflash