MALACANANG is studying options to remove Merceditas Gutierrez from the Office of the Ombudsman, believing that the move will impartialize the cases against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Friday the Aquino administration has been skeptical on several decisions of Gutierrez that favored the Arroyo and her spouse, former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

Gutierrez is an appointee of the former President.

Lacierda stressed that until Gutierrez is heading the Ombudsman, they could not expect justice in the cases hounding Mrs. Arroyo including the fertilizer fund scam, which has been exhumed due to the comeback of former Agriculture Secretary Cito Lorenzo.

"Medyo may konti kaming duda dahil sa kanyang (Gutierrez) malapit na relasyon kay First Gentleman, ito ay napatunayan na din dati ng napawalang sala si Pangulong Arroyo at si First Gentleman sa NBN-ZTE scandal," he said.

The Palace official noted that they respect the Ombudsman's office but the administration cannot give its full trust to the occupants of the office.

Some of the options to oust Gutierrez from her post include impeachment, early retirement, and voluntary resignation.

Lacierda said the impeachment is processed by the Lower House.

Asked what grounds would merit the Ombudsman chief's impeachment, Lacierda said: "The similar grounds on impeachment will be betrayal of public trust. A complaint may be filed but the Lower House is to decide whether that will be a ground for impeachment."

Gutierrez's term, whether she was appointed for two or six years, is also being identified by the Palace.

Truth Commission

Having said the doubts the administration has with the Ombudsman, Lacierda stressed the need for the Truth Commission to be formed.

The commission, to be headed by former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, aims to collate evidences that would ensure tight cases against past administrations.

"The mandate of the office of the ombudsman is to go after erring and graft corrupt officials. That is their role. They should not be selective in prosecuting officials, friend and foe," he noted.

He said they are expecting more evidences to surface under the Aquino administration.

Lacierda clarified that the Truth Commission will be an independent body and they will still respect the decision of the Ombudsman on the cases to be filed by the commission before them.

"The President wants independent Ombudsman who will really investigate," he pointed out.

The Ombudsman has released a resolution to file graft charges and malversation of public funds against Lorenzo and former Agriculture secretary Jocjoc Bolante in relation to the fertilizer fund scam. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)