Ombudsman: My conscience is clear

By Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Feb 24 2011 08:01 PM | Updated as of Feb 25 2011 04:01 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez lambasted the House of Representatives for allegedly browbeating the impeachment proceedings against her.

In an interview with ANC, Gutierrez said she would not file her answer to the complaints filed before the lower House. She was given until March 1 to file her reply, following the House justice committee’s decision to proceed with the hearings.

The committee made the move following a ruling from the Supreme Court allowing the House to proceed with the impeachment case.

The high court’s decision is not yet final, however. She has until March 5 to file her motion for reconsideration.

“Yun ang kanilang position, iba sa akin…The final arbiter is the SC. The SC has ruled that it’s not yet final,” she stressed.
She noted: “Why the rush? Nandito pa naman ako…Hindi ako tatakbo."

The issue stemmed from 2 complaints filed separately by 2 different groups. The high court took the position of the committee on justice that the continuation of the proceedings can be anchored from its lone referral of both complaints.

'We also love our gov't'

Calls for her impeachment became louder after her office agreed to enter into a plea bargain deal with former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia.

“Para kaming lumalabas na nagla-lawyer for Garcia. But we have to defend our position. We also love our government,” she said, noting that it is paramount on her part to protect the interests of the nation.

She said she did not receive a single centavo, “not even once in my 40 years in service.”

She maintained there was not enough evidence to convict Garcia for plunder, thus the dire need to enter into a bargain.

She noted that in the charge sheet initiated by her predecessors, they only wrote that Garcia accumulated wealth through commissions and kickbacks and other pecuniary benefits from different military suppliers.

“You should be able to prove the predicate crime, the underlying offenses…The predicate crime there is the bribery…how can you say that kung walang contractor, walang supplier, walang witness,” she added.

The testimonies of witnesses, former military budget officer George Rabusa and former Commission on Audit (COA) auditor Haidee Mendoza, are new pieces of evidence that have yet to be assessed, she noted.

She said these are not enough to immediately file for a withdrawal of the plea bargain agreement.

“Hindi ganun kadali na i-withdraw…The prosecution will have to assess the evidence whether there is ground to ask for a withdrawal. Sa korte ba, pwede mong sabihin lang na dahil recommended ng Senate iyong or ng constituents ni Congressman Fariñas?” she asked.