MANILA, Philippines - Complainant Akbayan party said there is nothing political in its bid to have Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez impeached, maintaining that she needs to be booted out because she is already “unfit to continue her office.”
“The evidence against Gutierrez is strong. We have in our possession indisputable information that will prove that the Ombudsman is guilty of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust. We have empirical evidence and clear basis to say that Gutierrez as an Ombudsman was a disservice to the public,” former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros said.
Explaining Akbayan’s complaint before the House Justice Committee, Rep. Kaka Bag-ao said Gutierrez’s leadership constitutes of incompetence, inefficiency, gross ignorance of the law, and deliberate filing of defective complaints.
These can be attested by the low conviction rate of the Office of the Ombudsman under her lead, she added.
Using several reports from different organizations, Bag-ao said the Ombudsman had a “dismal” conviction rating of 14.4% in 2008, compared to 55% in 2007.
She debunked an earlier report from the Ombudsman that the conviction went to as high as 73% in 2008, supposedly the highest in the history of the office.
“This happened because of the plea bargains…Is she really proud that the [cases] are being bargained,” she said. The figure does not include yet the controversial deal with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.
Bag-ao cited, for example, the dismissal of the robbery case against former Justice Secretary Hernando Perez.
She said the first information or charge sheet filed against Perez did not allege the intent to gain, which should have bolstered the charges of robbery.
She explained this was defective enough that the court later dropped the case.
Bag-ao alleged this should indicate incompetence or deliberate accommodation that already amounts to a betrayal of public trust. She noted Perez used to be Gutierrez’s boss in the Department of Justice.
The dismal conviction rate is only 1 of 7 grounds for the impeachment of Gutierrez, Akbayan said. The others are:
• the alleged failure to take prompt and immediate action of the complaints filed against various public officials, including former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo with regard to the National Broadband Network deal with Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE Corporation;
• the alleged delay in conducting and concluding its investigation into the wrongful death of ensign Philip Andrew Pestaño aboard a Navy Vessel 15 years ago;
• The decision of the Ombudsman upholding the legality and arrest and involuntary detention of Hontiveros in a rally in 2006;
• The failure to investigate the possible wrongdoing and impropriety of the P1-million dinner for the presidential party at the Le Cirque restaurant in New York;
• The repeated failure to take prompt action on a wide variety of cases involving official abuse and corruption; and,
• The refusal to grant ready access to public records such as the Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) of public officials.
“As such, we urge Gutierrez to just resign and save the country the time, resources and energy in this process,” Hontiveros stressed.