MANILA, Philippines - There could be a more sinister reason as to why the Aquino administration had sought for the removal of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
Allies of former President and now Pampanga 2nd district Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said the Aquino administration wanted an Ombudsman that would be sympathetic to its interests, amid the increasing number of allegations of wrongdoings against its members.
In a joint statement read by Davao Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas, the minority said: “With the many problems of its own making, and anomalies involving its own officials, it is no longer surprising that people in the Administration are interested in installing a partisan and sympathetic Ombudsman.”
The minority noted the incumbent administration attacked Gutierrez and forced her to resign.
“Wasn’t Ombudsman Merci Gutierrez, a subject of your persecution, vindicated by the Sandiganbayan ruling that affirmed her decision for a plea bargain agreement? You have been quick to shame and pillory the Ombudsman, who has NOT a shred of corruption on her name, without bothering to check the soundness of her legal arguments,” they said.
The minority echoed earlier observations that the Aquino government is selective, targeting its political enemies even as it tries to shore up its flagging image.
“Mahal na Pangulo, hindi na maisasalba ng paninisi at paninira ang kabagalan ng inyong Administrasyon. Sa tagal ng inyong pagkakaupo, kailangang may maipakita rin kayong ginawa,” they said.
The minority further listed down the Aquino administration personalities whom they said are guilty of wrongdoings.
They noted, in particular, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, whose Bureau of Internal Revenue has started to probe members of the minority for alleged tax evasion.
“In the meantime, your own officials in the Finance Department have been accused of smuggling and other corrupt acts. Secretary Purisima, Undersecretary [Guillermo] Parayno and [Customs] Commissioner [Angelito] Alvarez join the growing list of your officials or allies allegedly involved in corrupt acts,” the minority said
They are in addition to the likes of Land Transportation Office Chief Virginia Torres, former Congressman Neric Acosta and DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno, they alleged. “We urge you not to be quick to disregard these allegations, but instead conduct a thorough investigation on the matter with results open to the public.”
Minority leader Edcel Lagman, on the other hand, said the Aquino administration has embarked on a campaign to oust officials who aren’t sympathetic to them, such as the Commission on Elections and Commission on Audit, with the Office of the Ombudsman being the latest to join that list.
“Let me go back a little in time you would notice that the independent constitutional bodies have been invaded so to speak and their respective heads have been either removed or asked to resign or the chairmanship have been vacant new ones have been appointed,” he said.
“Habang patuloy na sinisiraan at kinakasuhan ninyo ang miyembro ng Minorya, nakikita naman ng mamamayan na hindi kayo patas—ang inyong mga opisyal ay sangkot din pala sa katiwalian. While it is beyond our powers to interfere in the nomination or appointment of these officials, we will not shirk from our responsibility as fiscalizers of this Administration to prevent this government from becoming—to borrow the words of the Supreme Court—a vehicle for vindictiveness and selective retribution,” they said.
Just recently the BIR started to probe Camarines Sur Rep. Dato Arroyo after filing a tax evasion case against Ang Galing Rep. Party-list Rep. Mikey Arroyo and his wife Angela. The Aquino administration campaigned in 2010 on an anti-Arroyo platform.