Philippine Daily Inquirer

Party-list group vows to get Gutierrez

- By Leila B. Salaverria and Edson C. Tandoc Jr.

THE AKBAYAN party-list group yesterday vowed to jump-start the process to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez upon the opening of Congress at the end of the month.

But the Liberal Party of President Aquino has so far not warmed up to the idea, with its members saying that they would first have to see the impeachmen­t complaint to be filed against Gutierrez and develop a consen- sus on whether the party would support the move.

Akbayan had worked with the LP during the last election campaign, since one of its members was a senatorial candidate of the party.

Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said the group would file an impeachmen­t complaint against Gutierrez once Congress opens on July 26.

Gutierrez has been accused of favoring former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who appointed her to the post. President Aquino has promised to dig deeper into the scandals that rocked the Arroyo administra­tion.

Akbayan announced its decision to go after the Ombudsman shortly after a Malacañang spokespers­on said the Palace was studying ways to remove Gutierrez from office, because it did not expect to get justice from her.

According to Bello, Gutierrez’s performanc­e as Ombudsman showed her bias for Arroyo, her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo and their allies. Thus, Gutierrez has to be removed from office so that those responsibl­e for various questionab­le acts and deals during the Arroyo administra­tion would finally be made to answer for their actions.

“She has to go if we want to expedite the process of finally bringing Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her allies to account,” Bello said in a statement.

He lamented that Gutierrez had ignored many crucial cases that involved Ms Arroyo or people close to her. She did not even try to fulfill her role as an impartial, unbiased investigat­or of the cases brought before her office, he said of Gutierrez.

Evidence might go to waste

“In fact, the Ombudsman made no effort to hide her bias for the people who put her in power—she sat on high profile cases of graft and corruption such as the fertilizer scam and the euro generals case, and proved her loyalty to the previous administra­tion by clearing then first gentleman Mike Arroyo in the NBN-ZTE case despite the damning evidence,” Bello said.

He said the findings of the truth commission to be formed by President Aquino might go to waste if Gutierrez was still theOmbudsm­an.

“What indication­s have we that she will act according to the recommenda­tions of the truth commission when it was under her watch that justice was stalled asMrs. Arroyo systematic­ally corrupted the country’s institutio­ns of governance and used public office to accumulate wealth?” he said.

Subject to evaluation

Also yesterday, AssistantO­mbudsman Jose de Jesus asserted that the findings of the truth commission would still be subject to the evaluation of the Office of the Ombudsman.

It is within the Ombudsman’smandate to have a “last touch” on complaints filed against government officials, De Jesus said.

He said, “We will give due considerat­ion to the findings and recommenda­tions of whatever outside agency will submit to us.”

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