Ombudsman Gutierrez faces second impeach rap

August 4, 2010 10:51 am 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Aug. 3 — Another impeachment complaint was filed Tuesday against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez at the House of Representatives.

Renato Reyes of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan; Sister Mary John Mananzan of PAGBABAGO; Danilo Ramos of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP); lawyer Edre Olalia of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL); Ferdinand Gaite of COURAGE; and James Terry Ridon of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) filed their 30-page complaint before House secretary general Marilyn Barua-Yap.

One of the issues they brought up was Gutierrez’s alleged failure to act on the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.

The group said the Ombudsman should also be held liable for her alleged refusal to prosecute then police Director Eliseo de la Paz for his alleged illegal act of not declaring before Customs officials the more than US$ 10,000 he brought out of the country despite his public admission under oath that he committed the illegal act.

The complainants further claimed that Gutierrez also failed to take action on the poll automation contract awarded to the Mega Pacific Consortium that was declared anomalous and void by the Supreme Court in 2004.

"The Office of the Ombudsman is envisioned to be the bulwark in enforcing public accountability among government officials. It is therefore expected to fearlessly take action and promptly investigate and prosecute complaints brought before it," the group said.

The Constitution allows only one impeachment complaint against an impeachable official every year.

House justice committee chair and Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas said that "the committee cannot handle two cases, only one based on the impeachment rules on the 14th Congress."

He said the cases could not be consolidated either because this was not allowed in the previous impeachment complaint, "unless the committee makes a different ruling on the consolidation."

"What will most likely happen is we will adopt the impeachment rules of the 14th Congress provisionally and then we will discuss amendments to it," the solon said.

The first impeachment complaint was filed on July 22 by former Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros, retired general Danilo Lim, and Felipe and Evelyn Pestano. (PNA)

V3/LGI

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