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 Impeachment Raps Being Readied Vs Ombudsman

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PostSubject: Impeachment Raps Being Readied Vs Ombudsman   Mon Jul 12, 2010 11:39 am

A second impeachment complaint is set to be filed against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez for her supposed inaction on the controversies involving former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The complaint will be filed by the party-list group Akbayan once the 15th Congress starts its session later this month, according to the group’s statement.

Former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel said they are “already preparing an impeachment complaint against Gutierrrez" and that she is in communication with the group’s representatives, Walden Bello and Kaka Bag-ao, in readying the complaint.

“The Ombudsman in its present form is the single biggest obstacle in the delivery of justice. If we are sincere in exacting accountability from [Arroyo], then the institution mandated to protect the people from corrupt officials, institutional abuse and inefficiency must be cleansed of the very same people it is supposed to act against," she said.

Hontiveros run for senator under the Aqiuno-led Liberal Party in the recent elections but lost.

The Office of the Ombudsman’s spokesperson, Assistant Ombudsman Jose de Jesus, cannot be reached as of posting time for comment. Gutierrez had recently told The Philippine Star that she will defend her independence from the Arroyo administration.

Seven-year term

Last Friday, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Malacañang is studying several options in removing Guiterrez, whose fixed seven-year term ends on December 2012.

Section 11, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution provides that “the Ombudsman and his deputies shall serve for a term of seven years without reappointment."

Lacierda said President Benigno “Noynoy" Aquino III has long been skeptical of Gutierrez’s resolve in going after those involved in corruption issues, particularly those involving Arroyo.

That same day, the Ombudsman said it has included former Agriculture Secretary Luis “Cito" Lorenzo Jr. on the list of people being investigated for the P728-million fertilizer fund scam where money for poor farmer beneficiaries was allegedly diverted to Arroyo’s presidential campaign kitty in 2004.

The Ombudsman has cleared Arroyo of involvement in the controversy.

First complaint

In September 2009, the House justice committee, composed mostly of Arroyo allies, has dismissed the first impeachment complaint against Guttierez, who is widely perceived to have close ties with Arroyo and husband Jose Miguel.

Senate President Jovito Salonga, LP chairman emeritus, led the filing of the complaint in March that year. They charged Gutierrez with betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the 1987 Constitution in the handling of several controversies involving the First Family and Arroyo’s allies.

These issues include the Mega Pacific and corruption case against former Elections chair Benjamin Abalos Sr., the World Bank mess regarding the sanctioning of three Filipino construction firms over alleged collusion, and the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, among others.

Gutierrez said she feels vindicated by the dismissal. “It’s good that it is already clear that the evidence the complainants have against me have no basis to file an impeachment case against me," she was quoted as saying in media reports.

Sophia Regina Dedace, GMA News TV
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