Friday, September 3, 2010

The Majority has the numbers to impeach Ombudsman Gutierrez, but the President has to want it - Progressive Party List Bloc

Joint Press Statement

August 31, 2010

The progressive party-list bloc in the 15th Congress firmly believes that the impeachment case against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez can and will prosper if President Aquino and the Liberal Party-led coalition in the House musters the political will to make sure it does. The impeachment complaint only needs 90 signatures of endorsement and the articles of impeachment can immediately be sent to the Senate for trial.

It is incumbent upon the President and the LP leadership to ensure that the impeachment complaints succeed. Ombudsman Gutierrez’s removal from office remains the litmus test of Pres. Aquino’s promise to hold former president Arroyo and her cohorts accountable for their crimes. Only with a credible and competent Ombudsman can his administration expect to curb corruption.

The House will not find it hard to impeach the Ombudsman. The complaints filed by leaders of various people’s organizations and NGOs clearly show that the Ombudsman betrayed the public trust and culpably violated the Constitution by her failure to act promptly and effectively investigate and prosecute those involved in the fertilizer fund scam, the Comelec-Mega Pacific automation contract, the Euro generals incident and the NBN-ZTE deal.

Therefore, we call on the President to stand firm on his publicly-declared intention of removing the Ombudsman from office. It bothers us that the President seems to have backtracked on his earlier, critical position vis-à-vis the Ombudsman. The President should show everyone that he is serious in taking the straight path and in removing one of its biggest obstacles.

The case against Gutierrez is unique. For the first time in many years, impeachment proceedings are being initiated from the ranks of the majority. Thus we call on the House leadership to mobilize its numbers to ensure the successful impeachment of the Ombudsman. If 90 signatures cannot be gathered for immediate transmittal of the complaint to the Senate, the House leadership must make sure that the complaints are consolidated, given a fair hearing, and voted upon based on their merits.

The new leadership, especially the President, is now in a position to ensure not a tyranny of numbers but a proper hearing and resolution of the case which was denied us in the previous Congress. We hope they do not disappoint our people.

The Justice Committee has its work cut out for it with the simultaneous referral to it last August 11 of the two impeachment complaints against the Ombudsman. The next step is to consolidate the two complaints into one impeachment proceedings. Courts as a rule consolidate similar complaints. Congress as a matter of routine also consolidates bills on the same issue. This legal principle of consolidation is the reason why impeachment rules do not prohibit consolidation in anticipation of impeachment complaints simultaneously referred and initiated.

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Editor's note: A note from the Facebook page of U.P. Diliman Department of English and Comparative Literature Professor Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, entitled "WHY AM I BEING HOUNDED BY THE OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN," ( shows that the Office of the Ombudsman may already be running amuck as it fails to investigate and prosecute the real criminals in government. The Diliman Diary strongly objects to official ineptitude and corruption by government officials both inside and outside the Diliman area, including the Office of the Ombudsman, which is located in Agham Road, Diliman, Quezon City.

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