Merci faces criminal raps over fertilizer scam


Posted at May 09 2011 12:23 PM | Updated as of May 10 2011 03:06 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is facing criminal charges before the Department of Justice for inaction and delays in filing cases in connection with the P728 million fertilizer fund scam.

In a complaint filed Monday before the DOJ, various groups accused Gutierrez of violating sections of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code or perjury in solemn affirmation; and violation of Presidential Decreee No. 1829 or Penalizing Obstruction of Apprehension and Prosecution of Criminal Offenders.

The complaint said Ombudsman Gutierrez failed to file cases against respondents in the fertilizer scam despite receiving 2 fact-finding reports from Task Force Abono, a Commission on Audit report and a Senate fact-finding report on the scandal as early as 2006.

It said the failure of Ombudsman Gutierrez to act promptly on the complaints is inexcusable because a period of more than 5 years "already constitutes inordinate delay in the administration of justice and because the reports and evidence gathered by the Task Force Abono, the Senate, and the Commission on Audit finding culpability on high-ranking government officials and private individuals have long been submitted and known to Ombudsman Gutierrez as early as during the first quarter of 2006."

It said the failure to file the charges immediately "is contrary to the Ombudsman’s duty to give priority to complaints filed against high ranking government officials and/or those occupying supervisory positions and to complaints involving grave offenses and large sums of money."

The complainants also denied Gutierrez's statement that numerous motions and pleadings that were filed by the parties contributed to the delay in resolving the case.

"Atty. [Frank] Chavez and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, et al have not file position papers or memorandums in the cases they have filed before the Ombudsman precisely because they were not ordered to do so by the respondent," they said.

The complainants include Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), AMIHAN, Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Kalipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK), Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL). 

Gutierrez resigned from office after being impeached in the House of Representatives. She left office last Friday, May 6.