ONE should give it to Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez for refusing to go down without a fight. She’s not about to dignify calls for her to resign, and impeaching her will take time.

Indeed, it is unfair to use Gutierrez’s closeness with the family of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as argument that she would not honestly pursue cases involving the Arroyos.

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Perceptions and worries have no place in a serious matter as gauging the objectivity of the head of an anti-graft body.

But Gutierrez has been Ombudsman since December 2005 after brief stints as acting justice secretary under Arroyo in 2002 and 2004. She has a body of work from which a better assessment of her objectivity can be made.

This assessment is important because the administration of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has placed high in its agenda the prosecution of grafters in government and the Office of the ombudsman has an important role to play in it.

Major cases

In a press conference, Gutierrez said she did nothing wrong and that her office acts on cases on the basis of evidence.

“Tao rin ako, nasasaktan. Wala po akong ninakaw sa kaban ng ating bayan. Ewan ko lang po iyong aking mga detractors,” she said.

Corruption, however, may not even be included in the impeachment complaint that her “detractors” are planning to file against her once sessions of the House of Representatives open.

Rather, she will be put to task for her office’s questionable handling of major cases involving top officials of the previous administration, cases that many people believe could be linked to the Arroyos.

Mona Lisa treatment

The list is long: from the P728-million fertilizer fund scam that the anti-graft office suddenly got interested in after forgetting about it for months, to the scuttled NBN-ZTE deal and even to the multimillion-peso lamppost scandal in Cebu.

Gutierrez said she is willing to talk with PNoy to explain her side.

She better do the explaining to the people, too, especially to the Cebuanos who have been questioning the slow movement not only of the lamppost case but of the other graft cases emanating from Cebu that have been given the Mona Lisa treatment (they just lie on top of her table and they die there).