MANILA, Philippines - Embattled Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is again doing the rounds to clear her name, this time telling her critics not to put all the blame on her.
Appearing before journalists at the Kapihan sa Diamond Hotel, the usually elusive Gutierrez said “most of these cases were inherited by me. Why am I being pilloried for the inaction of my successors?”
She cited, for example, the fertilizer fund scandal, which started during the time of former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo.
The scandal is 1 of 6 cases being thrown at her in the House of Representatives. Last week, the House Justice Committee saw probable cause that she should be ousted from office.
The House plenary is expected to tackle the case on Tuesday. Some said the lower House has the numbers to bring the case to the Senate.
She said she has not been wanting when she inherited the many cases from her successor.
She also cited the tax credit scam that started in 1990. “I had followed up on those. I told my prosecutors to expedite the cases so that people will know we are acting on them,” she said.
Gutierrez said her prosecutors should also not be blamed if cases are quashed because of lack of evidence.
Or, in the case of the tax credit scam, for example, Gutierrez claimed she received information that former Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio concealed from them certain pieces of evidence.
Separating the prosecution side
Gutierrez also debunked accusations her office is delaying the resolution of cases. The Office of the Ombudsman receives 40 cases per day or 10,000 per year.
There are about 300 investigators and 200 prosecutors working under the Ombudsman.
Also present during the press conference this morning was Batangas 2nd District Rep. Hermilando Mandanas, who said there is a need to separate the prosecution powers from the Office of the Ombudsman.
Gutierrez said in other countries, there is an entity separate from the Ombudsman that investigates and prosecutes cases. In the Philippines, the office has 5 functions: investigation, prosecution, anti-corruption initiatives, promotion and administrative adjudication.
“If there’s a need to separate [the functions], then the House should study the options. But for now, that’s what we are doing,” she added.