Deputy Ombudsman linked to hostage crisis to be reinstated

By Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Sep 25 2012 12:29 PM | Updated as of Sep 26 2012 01:08 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court has ordered the reinstatement of a high-ranking official of the Office of the Ombudsman linked to bribery charges leading to the bus hostage crisis on August 23, 2010.

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Estelita-Perlas Bernabe, the full court ordered the reinstatement of Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzales III, who allegedly asked for a P150,000 bribe from police officer Rolando Mendoza for the dismissal of his criminal case.

Mendoza took hostage Hong Kong tourists at the Quirino Grandstand. At the end of the nine-hour drama involving the police, Mendoza and several of the tourists ended up dead.

Subsequent investigations eventually pointed to Gonzales, when Mendoza mentioned his name during the negotiations for the release of the hostages.

Gonzales denied the accusations, but the Office of the President dismissed him from office.

The decision penned by Bernabe, an Aquino appointee, said the OP has the vested authority to investigate incidents involving officials of the Office of the Ombudsman.

The SC said Gonzales is not relieved of all his liabilities but “the administrative acts imputed to petitioner fall short of the constitutional standard of betrayal of public trust.”

It said the findings of the OP on negligence and misconduct on the part of Gonzales should be further investigated by the Office of the Ombudsman itself.

The SC also ordered the payment of Gonzales' backwages.

Meanwhile, the SC allowed the OP to continue investigating the case of Special Prosecutor Wendell Barreras-Sulit.

Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and Senior Justice Antonio Carpio concurred in the decision, including five others.

The dissent was written by Justice Arturo Brion.