Merci believes she'll get fair trial at the Senate

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 09 2011 10:12 AM | Updated as of Mar 09 2011 10:18 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is confident she will get a "fair" trial at the Senate, her spokesman said on Wednesday.

"Malaki ang tiwala niya sa members of the Senate. First, the senators are independent minded. There are lawyers there, not only just ordinary lawyers, but top-notch lawyers," Atty. Salvador Panelo, Gutierrez's spokesman, said in an interview on ABS-CBN's "Umagang Kay Ganda".

Panelo mentioned at least 3 senators who are expected to give Gutierrez fair treatment. They are lawyers Joker Arroyo, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Quoting Santiago, Panelo said she is "not impressed with the proceedings in the House. They (congressmen) have to study their law, and mahina ang ebidensya."

"We're confident that Ombudsman Gutierrez will have a fair hearing in the Senate," Panelo said.

He said that this early, Gutierrez is already preparing to go to trial at the Senate.

He said that the transmittal of the Articles of Impeachment from the House to the Senate is already a "foregone conclusion" as the House justice committee found probable cause to indict the Ombudsman for betrayal of public trust.

The first impeachment complaint includes 3 principal allegations: low conviction rates of the Office of the Ombudsman; inaction on the National Broadband Network-ZTE telecommunications deal; and inaction on the death of Navy Ensign Phillip Pestaño.

The allegations in the second complaint filed by the group of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) are the Ombudsman's delay or inaction on the fertilizer fund scam, the Mega-Pacific poll automation contract, and the "Euro Generals" cases.

Conspiracy theory

Panelo said that they were not surprised when the House justice committee declared there is probable cause to indict Gutierrez.

"Dati pa namang may conspiracy against Ombudsman Gutierrez eh. Talagang pinlano na nila iyon from the very start," he said.

Panelo said that there are 117 House members, not 50 as he earlier claimed, who are facing graft charges at the Office of the Ombudsman.

"Apat sa kanila ang nasa committee on justice. Kung may delicadeza ang apat na ito, dapat from the very start nag-inhibit na sila," he said.

One of the congressmen Panelo was referring to is Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., chairman of the House justice committee, whose father is facing graft charges at the Office of the Ombudsman.

Disturbing

The lawyer said that what's really disturbing him and other supporters of Gutierrez are some details in the impeachment complaint against the Ombudsman that were junked by the House of Representatives during the 14th Congress.

He said that the allegations in that impeachment complaint are almost the same as those mentioned in the 2 new sets of impeachment complaints, which are the NBN-ZTE, fertilizer fund, and the Mega Pacific scams and the Euro Generals case.

He added that some congressmen who voted to indict Gutierrez in the 2 new sets of complaints are the same people who voted against the impeachment complaint junked during the 14th Congress.

"Apat dito ang the same ground, and yet the members who voted against the impeachment are the same persons, congressmen voting in favor. Bakit?" Panelo said.

He added: "Bakit naman noong nakaraang Kongreso ipinaglalaban ninyo na walang grounds? Pagkatapos ngayon, suddenly meron samantalang parehong pareho ang grounds?"