March 3, 2009
KIKO CHALLENGES OMBUDSMAN TO TAKE “INDEFINITE LEAVE”
Independent senator and judicial reforms advocate Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan today challenged Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to take an “indefinite leave”, as she faces an impeachment complaint filed against her by former Cabinet officials and leaders of civil society groups.
The 33-page impeachment complaint was filed yesterday at the House of Representatives by former Senate President Jovito Salonga, former DILG Secretary Rafael Alunan III, former DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano Soliman, columnist Randy David, former Civil Service Commission chairperson Karina Constantino-David, former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani, Sister Mary John Mananzan, Leah Navarro of the Black and White Movement, members of the Former Senior Government Officials, and other civil society leaders.
It cited, among others, Gutierrez’s “inaction, mishandling, or downright dismissal of clear cases of graft and corruption, some leading to the President herself or that of her closest associates.”
Gutierrez blames politics for the impeachment move, saying that the charges were “timely” because she had just ordered the filing of graft charges against former Bukidnon representative Neric Acosta, who now sits as Vice President of the oppositionist Liberal Party (LP).
She also accused Salonga, Chairman Emeritus of the LP, for being responsible for the loss of important documents on graft cases when the latter was Chairman of the Presidential Commission on God Government (PCGG).
Kiko, who supports the impeachment complaint against Gutierrez because of her inaction on certain high-profile cases, refers to all these as part of the Ombudsman’s “bullying tactics”.
“She should take an indefinite leave effective immediately,” Kiko said.
“The Ombudsman is only giving her critics even more ammunition by resorting to bullying tactics against her complainants. She should not be allowed to intimidate and threaten complainants using the power of her high office,” he reiterated.
Kiko also pointed out that the Ombudsman and Malacañang seemed to be “reading from the same script” in regard to the impeachment complaint.
“Malacañang says the Office of the Ombudsman should not be politicized; the Ombudsman says politics is behind this impeachment complaint. Malacañang says in this issue that we should respect our court processes; the Ombudsman says the courts and not Congress is the proper venue for these complaints. It is a terrible spectacle for justice and the rule of law when the Ombudsman and Malacañang appear to be reading from the same script.”
“It reinforces the view that Malacañang and the Ombudsman are in cahoots to prevent the truth and the rule of law from prevailing,” Kiko added.
“The perception arising from these delays is that the Ombudsman is biased in favor of the President and her family and closest allies,” Kiko commented.
“We welcome the impeachment complaint as a means for the Ombudsman to explain the undue delay in so many cases brought before her office. The people deserve nothing less than transparency and accountability from their officials,” Kiko said.