MANILA – Militant groups filed on Tuesday an impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez at the House of Representatives, her second under the current administration.
The groups cited betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the 1987 Constitution as the grounds for Gutierrez's removal from office.
The complaint cited at least three cases that Gutierrez failed to resolve, including the Mega Pacific deal, the fertilizer fund scam and her refusal to prosecute General Eliseo de la Paz, a member of the “Euro Generals” or a group of police generals who were caught with large amount of Euro currency in Russia.
The complainants in the latest case include Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of Bayan; Mary John Mananzan of Pagbabago! People's Movement for Change; Danilo Tamos, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas; lawyer Edre Olalia, acting secretary general of National Union of People's Lawyers; Ferdinand Gaite, chairperson of Courage; and James Terry Ridon, chairperson of League of Filipino Students.
“If the Ombudsman can criminally prosecute lowly public officials for appearing corrupt, unjust, improper or inefficient, the Ombudsman must also be impeached for betrayal of public trust should she be found to have committed the same through her acts or omission,” the complaint read.
The complainants have also called on the political majority in the Lower House to elevate the impeachment case to the Senate.
The seven-year term of Gutierrez is set to end on December 2012. The Ombudsman may only be removed from office through voluntary resignation or impeachment by Congress.
“The Filipino people deserve an Ombudsman who will perform her constitutional mandate to protect them from graft and corruption and not someone who condones the very thieves and traitors that the Office was mandated to prosecute,” the complainants said.
The complaint easily got the endorsement of the progressive party-list bloc comprising seven representatives.
In July, former Akbayan representative Risa Hontiveros, former military general Danilo Lim, and parents of deceased Navy Ensign Philip Pestaño filed an impeachment case against Gutierrez.
The groups cited seven cases including the delay of the Ombudsman in conducting its investigation into the death of Pestaño.
Pestaño was said to have documented proof of the corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The Office of the Ombudsman has already dismissed the murder case filed by the parents of Pestaño last week while denying that the decision was a political retaliation.
House Secretary General Marilyn Barua-Yap however said that the impeachment cases will be taken up depending on the rules to be adapted by the committee on justice of the Lower House.
Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., who chairs the House committee on justice, meanwhile, said that the committee is likely to adopt the impeachment rules of the previous Congress but will also consider amendments to it.
Tupas said the two impeachment cases cannot be consolidated into one based on the previous rules.
In the 14th Congress, lawmakers voted 172-15-1 in favor of a committee report junking the impeachment complaint against Gutierrez filed by former Senate President Jovito Salonga. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)