MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Tuesday urged Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to either resign or face the full brunt of the impeachment complaints filed against her in Congress.
Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte made the call as the Palace welcomed the decision of the House Committee on Justice in approving the impeachment complaints against Gutierrez.
Valte described the decision as “a momentous occasion for Philippine governance.”
“It is the first time an Ombudsman faces impeachment proceedings for the betrayal of public trust due to her inaction on the cases put forward in the complaints,” she said.
Valte hinted that Gutierrez has to decide on either staying in her position and fighting the impeachment complaint or resigning.
“The constitutional process is already unfolding, and as the head of a constitutionally independent office, the Ombudsman must weigh her options in light of these historic proceedings,” she said.
“We encourage our fellow Filipinos to follow the proceedings closely-remaining informed of the charges and evaluating the evidence to be presented-so that we may all fulfill our roles in our collective responsibility to protect the interests of our country,” Valte added.
Gutierrez, meanwhile, accused the House Committee on Justice of violating her rights.
She said she can no longer expect any fair treatment from majority of its members.
In a statement, Gutierrez said what the House justice committee did “is a bad precedent in our justice system because the [committee] only showed how the constitutional rights of an individual could be trampled upon in the name of politics.”
The committee voted on Tuesday morning that there are sufficient grounds in the 2 impeachment complaints filed against Gutierrez.
A total of 41 lawmakers agreed with the motion finding sufficient grounds in the first impeachment complaint filed by former Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros against Gutierrez. Twelve lawmakers dissented.
‘Time to resign’
Former Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio on Tuesday urged Gutierrez, her former boss, to either resign or face impeachment.
In an interview, Villa-Ignacio said a drawn-out Senate trial would adversely affect the functions of the Office of the Ombudsman and Congress.
“Mas maganda para sa lahat kung magre-resign na lang. She should heed the call of various sectors including the business community, the academe and religious groups. It would also allow congressmen and senators to concentrate on their primary duty, which is legislation and spare the country from another divisive exercise,” he said.
Former Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, one of the complainants against the Ombudsman, said she and other witnesses are raring to present their affidavits and other documentary evidence.
She said she is ready to submit to cross-examination by members of the justice panel.
“This is a historic moment as this marks the first time that an impeachment process got to this point in the Lower House. This reinforces the administration’s efforts to promote accountability of public officials,” Baraquel said.