Ex-Ombudsman Gutierrez meets successor

By Michael Punongbayan, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 11 2011 11:22 AM | Updated as of Aug 11 2011 07:23 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Newly appointed Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales met with her predecessor Merceditas Gutierrez in a rare one-on-one meeting last Tuesday, but nobody wants to talk about it.

A very reliable source told The STAR the former ombudsman paid her successor a “courtesy visit” more than a week after the latter assumed office as the country’s chief graft buster.

Gutierrez, who resigned on May 6 as she was about to face an impeachment trial before the Senate, dropped by the anti-graft agency’s central office in Quezon City at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

“I don’t know what they talked about but former ombudsman Gutierrez appeared vibrant, happy,” The STAR source said.

“She was smiling as she left and passed by the lobby,” the source added, noting that it was the first time that the former ombudsman was seen at the agency since she stepped down three months ago.

Gutierrez could not be reached for a statement regarding the meeting, while Morales has yet to meet the media since assuming her post on August 1.

Gutierrez resigned after being accused of betraying public trust by sitting on high-profile cases in her office, especially those involving former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her family and her allies.

She denied the charges against her as she stepped down, but expressed sadness over how her long career in government ended that way even if she believes that she had served her country well.

Gutierrez was perceived to be well-loved by her subordinates, considering how other officials and rank-and-file employees stood by her during her most trying moments, despite accusations of wrongdoing by her detractors.

Meanwhile, much is expected from retired associate justice Morales, whose appointment as ombudsman was announced by no less than President Aquino during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) late last month.

So far, she has not made herself available for interviews and has not yet designated an official spokesperson or media officer.

In her impromptu speech during the turnover ceremony which reporters were not allowed to cover, she reportedly vowed to prioritize high-profile cases and cleanse the Office of the Ombudsman of non-performing personnel in an effort to win back the public’s trust and confidence in the anti-graft agency.

She also asked officials and employees for support as she learns the ins and outs of her new job, starting with learning what sub-offices and divisions do and what acronyms stand for.