MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - The resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, effective May 6, has drawn mixed reactions from various quarters.
Below are some of the reactions:
Statement of Mrs. Elena Bautista-Horn, Spokesperson of Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
We respect the decision of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to resign her office.
All of us are aware of the tremendous pressures she was subjected to throughout her trial by publicity over the past year. We can imagine how this affected, not only the Ombudsman, but also her family, her friends, and the very office she holds. And so we respect her decision to spare them, and herself, further punishment.
House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman
One who retreats from a good fight does not deserve to be defended or supported. A resignation in the face of an impending impeachment trial, albeit shakily anchored, is not an honorable exit as it is an admission of culpability.
The resignation of the Ombudsman pre-terminates the impeachment proceedings because the removal of the incumbent, which is the principal objective of an impeachment, does not anymore obtain. However, it does not spare her from criminal prosecution for malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance in office, once warranted.
Although the resignation will now allow the Senate to fully concentrate on its legislative functions, it has deprived history and jurisprudence the precedence of a full-blown trial of an impeachable official.
The bigger question is what quid pro quo induced the Ombudsman to resign and who pressured her to resign?
Vice-President Jejomar Binay
The resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is a welcome development.However you regard the Ombudsman, her stepping down from office can only have a positive impact for the country.
This puts an end to the major distraction that keeps the administration from focusing its attention and energies on the many problems it is faced with. It will allow the President to pursue his anti-corruption agenda with more vigor, and hopefully more success, thus fulfilling a cornerstone platform of his presidential campaign.
I commend Ombudsman Gutierrez for her act which will forestall further divisiveness in the country, at a time when we should all be united to work for the common good.
Department of Justice
We, in the Department of Justice, believe that the decision of Ombudsman Merceditas N. Gutierrez to voluntarily step down from office presents the best scenario under which the controversies surrounding her office could finally be put to rest.
Best for Ombudsman Gutierrez herself, for the graceful exit it affords her.
Best for the institution for it will spare the Office of the Ombudsman from further distress or tribulations, especially of having to go through a controversial impeachment proceeding, which - regardless of how it would have ended - would nonetheless have had the irreversible effect of damaging and undermining the institution's credibility and authority. This, our nation cannot afford. The Office of the Ombudsman remains to be a powerful institution for the protection of the interests of the public - but that power would not be worth anything if the Office, and those leading it, didn't have the trust and confidence of the people.
Perhaps now, everyone, especially those working in the Office of the Ombudsman, can finally move on and concentrate on performing their Constitutional mandate, and go about regaining the faith and trust of the people. There's so much to do, so many accountabilities to exact from corrupt officials. We're just glad that we have all been spared from further costs of an impeachment trial - resource-wise or otherwise.
In the end, therefore, it's the interest of the nation that has been served.
House Speaker Sonny Belmonte
The resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez relieved Congress and the government of what might have turned out into a long, protracted, grueling and costly impeachment trial.
The trial would have distracted Congress from its main task of legislation. Sessions are set to resume May 9 and we can now concentrate on our legislative agenda and the many vital measures that can move faster with our undivided attention. Moreover, there is no longer any impediment to this administration’s goal of pursuing graft cases and we can expect that they be acted on decisively and swiftly.
I would like to thank all the members of the House of Representatives who have devoted so much time and effort to developing and preparing for the impeachment case. Let it be recalled that the House of Representatives acted decisively, crossing party lines, in overwhelmingly approving the impeachment complaint against the Ombudsman.
Sen. Manny Villar
“Gutierrez’s act is expected. This will do the country good, saving time and resources on the part of the Senate. Now, we should move forward and continue working to find ways to help the country in the face of the rising cost of petroleum products and basic commodities. Kung may pananagutan si Gutierrez sa batas, nariyan ang ating hukuman para magpasya dito.”
Sen. Ralph Recto
“This means that the latest reality TV show gets axed even before the first live episode is aired. We won’t be wearing those togas anymore. But it is a cancellation that both the actors and the audience do welcome. It doesn’t mean however that this is ‘The End’ of this political telenovela because we are speaking here of one person’s resignation and not the termination of the judicial proceedings that the cases will have to go through. The action simply shifts to the proper forum – the courts – where these cases duly belong.”
Sen. Pia Cayetano
“Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez made the correct decision in finally resigning from office, after months of clinging to her position despite mounting questions about her credibility and criticisms against her performance.
“In the end, her resignation will be good for our country and people. With Gutierrez out of the picture, the Aquino government will now have an opportunity to start on a clean slate to get to the bottom of corruption charges and prosecute the culprits behind the scandals from the previous administration.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano
The resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is a welcome development. She should be commended for finally considering national interests over her personal situation. Her resignation means the senate can now focus on enacting vital legislation to help combat graft and corruption, now that the impeachment trial is moot and academic.However we, particularly Malacanang, should learn our lessons well. History and this experience dictate that the next ombudsman must be of utmost integrity and exercise independence from Malacanang. Placing premium on loyalty as primary consideration in selecting the next ombudsman will make this government no different from its predecessor.
The next Ombudsman should be a champion of good governance and a fierce enemy to all corrupt public servants. He or she can not be perceived as a protector of the Aquino Administration today and beyond. I urge the Palace to be circumspect and devise an open and transparent process and selecting the new ombudsman. This should not be a concern simply of the Jbc. We must involve the public and anti graft groups in the process. We cant afford to make the same mistake again and again.
Congressman Miro Quimbo, House justice committee chairman and prosecution panel member
The resignation of Ombudsman Gutierrez brings out mixed emotions. Being one of the prosecutors, I am elated with her action as it now allows us Congressmen and the Senators to focus on very important legislative tasks needed by the people instead of spending much time in the Senate trial. But I am likewise a bit disappointed considering that we had been intensely preparing our respective assigned grounds for impeachment. Instead of going on a vacation during the long congressional recess, we busied ourselves preparing our respective cases: marking our evidence and laboriously preparing witnesses to support our case.
I laud Ombudsman Gutierrez on her honorable act of self-sacrifice. Her act of putting the interest of the institution above her own must be recognized. This should now allow the President unfettered action in pursuing his anti-corruption agenda.
While the Impeachment Proceedings is now practically mooted because of her resignation, it is not automatically terminated as the matter concerning her administrative liability still needs to be determined. Had she been convicted by the Senate, two penalties could be imposed: (1) removal from her office and (2) permanent disqualification from any other public office. The act of resigning only moots the first penalty but not the second one. Practicality dictates however that the proceedings now be dropped considering that the greater objective of removing her from office has already been achieved. A costly Senate trial cannot be justified for the purpose of merely disqualifying her from future public office.
Congressman Jack Enrile
I welcome the news on the resignation made by the Ombudsman. That she submitted her resignation to the President personally shows that amity and diplomacy still exists despite the bruising impact of the impeachment in the HOR. With the resignation being effective May 6, Congress can now focus on the remaining days of the First Regular Session to pass urgent legislation and some of the priorities of the President.
More importantly, with the resignation, the country is saved from further division and recrimination that would surely result with the impeachment trial. Let us settle down and face the challenges on escalating prices, hunger and jobs together.
Kilusang Mayo Uno
We welcome the resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez today. Her resignation poses new challenges to the regime of Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
Merci’s resignation is a victory attained by the Filipino workers’ and people’s non-stop vigilance and protests. Merci should still face trial for the crimes which she committed against the Filipino workers and people during her tenure as ombudsman. If she won’t be tried in the coming days and weeks, Merci’s dialogue with Noynoy this morning will be seen with suspicion by the Filipino workers and people as a secret negotiation.
With Merci out of the way, the prosecution of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her closest minions should proceed apace. There should be swift advances in the workers’ and people’s quest for justice over Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s crimes in the coming days. Without any advances in the prosecution of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her closest minions in the coming days, the workers’ and people’s discontent with the Aquino regime will continue to grow.
Prof. Harry Roque
As the first to call for impeachment of Gutierrez, I am happy she spared the nation from the spectacle and expense of a trial. I hope the president will appoint an ombudsman who will make the office relevant in upholding public accountability. I hope the new ombudsman will also heed the Alston report and embrace the challenge for the ombudsman also to deal with human rights violations.
Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr.
"Resignation has always been a valid option for Merceditas Gutierrez, the moment the impeachment complaints were filed. We are happy that she has finally stepped down.
That is the right move. We would have wanted to present evidence in the senate, but her resignation is good enough. We hope this paves way for the selection of an ombudsman who will file the necessary plunder raps vs GMA in the near future. Let's hope the selection process is transparent."