'Ombudsman's defiance may be impeachable offense'


Posted at Apr 02 2011 02:15 PM | Updated as of Apr 04 2011 03:31 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The failure of the Office of the Ombudsman to implement a Malacanang order may be grounds for another impeachment charge against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, a legal expert said.

Lawyer Harry Roque said the Ombudsman cannot defy the Palace order on Friday to dismiss Deputy Ombudsman Emilio A. Gonzalez III who handled the case of a police officer-turned-hostage-taker. 

“Lahat ng departamento ng gobyerno ay pupwedeng matanggal dahil lahat iyan, kung sila ay Presidential appointee, ay nasa jurisdiction ng ating Chief Executive,” explained Roque on radio dzMM on Saturday.

Ombudsman Gutierrez, who is facing an impeachment trial at the Senate, questioned Malacañang's authority to dismiss Gonzalez since the Ombudsman's Internal Affairs Board had already cleared him of any offense.
Malacañang had ordered Gonzalez relieved for gross neglect of duty and gross misconduct in handling the dismissal-complaint against police officer Rolando Mendoza who hostaged a tourist bus last August 2010.
Mendoza said he was not given a fair hearing at the Ombudsman and demanded to be reinstated when he hijacked the bus. He and 8 Hong Kong tourists died after the 12-hour incident, which embarassed the government before the international community. 
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, meanwhile, criticized the Ombudsman’s motive in conducting a probe on Gonzalez when the Office of the President was already conducting their own investigation.

However, she concedes that the Palace’s decision is not yet “final and executory”, as Gonzalez can still file a motion for reconsideration. -- With reports from radio dzMM and ANC