Ombudsman under fire

by Kobakila News

MANILA (March 2) – Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, faces impeachment complaint filed against her by former government officials and civil-society leaders and members, which includes former Senate President Jovito Salonga.

In a 33-page complaint, the group accused Gutierrez of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution for her failure to perform her duties. The complainants cited at least five cases they claimed pointed to corruption in high places and on which Gutierrez had failed to act as Ombudsman such as the:

  • P1.3-billion poll computerization deal of Mega Pacific with the Commission on Elections under Chair Benjamin Abalos;
  • former Justice Secretary Hernando Perez’s $-2million extortion case filed by former Manila Rep. Mark Jimenez;
  • P1-billion fertilizer fund scam cases filed by the Senate, lawyer Frank Chavez and murdered journalist Marlene Esperat;
  • P6.9 million fund involving top police officials or ‘euro-generals’ despite overwhelming evidence and admission by the PNP comptroller, Director Eliseo de la Paz;
  • multi-billion World Bank-funded road projects.

Salonga said his group, Kilosbayan and Bantay Katarungan, waited for a long time to move against Gutierrez because they had to convince everyone the merit in filing the impeachment complaint.

Gutierrez took over the Office of the Ombudsman in 2005.

Reacting on the complaint, the Ombudsman said during a press conference that all the statements in the impeachment complaint were false allegations and not true. She questioned Salonga’s and the other complainants’ motive.

She went on to mock and accuse the former senator of losing original documents in Washington, D.C. which should have been used to pursue cases against the Marcoses. “And yet,” she said, “nobody has asked where the missing documents are.”

Gutierrez said she was ready to answer the impeachment complaint for she did not steal even a single centavo from the people saying “I have my mandate, I have my term and I believe this is my duty, my service to our countrymen.”

She threatened to file perjury or falsification charges against the group for misleading and false statements and denied that her closeness to First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, a former classmate, had affected her handling of cases which involved him and his allies.

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