MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Teofisto Guingona III defended Monday the partial recommendations of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee calling for the impeachment or resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
Guingona, who chairs the committee, said he is not backing down from the recommendation despite opposition from Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
"I have the highest respect for the Senate President and his wisdom. However, I also believe in the wisdom of the recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Committee. The Ombudsman represents the single biggest stumbling block in our quest for truth and in our crusade to recover hundreds of millions of pesos in people's money that may be lost due to the negligence and lack of prosecutorial will on her part," he said in a statement.
He added: "Her departure in office is of paramount importance. Therefore, she must resign or be impeached."
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee earlier recommended the impeachment or resignation of Gutierrez as well as the firing of members of the Office of the Special Prosecutor for "neglecting, weakening and muddling" the plunder case against former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia and his family.
Guingona said Gutierrez should be impeached for approving a plea bargaining deal with Garcia, who is accused of stealing P303 million from the military's coffers.
"She has betrayed the public trust. There is also another alternative that is open to Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and that alternative is resignation. Nakikiusap po kami kay Madam Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez: please spare the country this conflict," he told reporters.
The senator said the committee also recommends the removal of Special Prosecutor Wendell Sulit and her subordinates, deputy special prosecutors Roberto Kallos and Jesus Micael, and assistant special prosecutors Jose Balmeo Jr. and Joseph Capistrano for failing to strengthen the Garcia case after 5 years.
For his part, Enrile disagreed with the Senate Blue Ribbon panel recommendation because of the Senate’s impending role as an impeachment court.