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Another impeachment complaint filed vs Ombudsman Gutierrez

Another impeachment complaint has been filed against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, this time by militant organizations. The group accused Gutierrez of betraying public trust and violating the 1987 Constitution by failing to live up to her role as the head of the country’s anti-graft investigating body. Renato Reyes of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan; Sister Mary John Mananzan of PAGBABAGO; Danilo Ramos of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas; 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 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 where money intended for poor farmers was allegedly used in the 2004 elections by then candidate President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. They said Gutierrez should also be held liable for her refusal to prosecute then police Director Eliseo de la Paz for his illegal act of not declaring before Customs officials the more than $10,000.00 he brought out of the country despite his public admission under oath that he committed the illegal act. The complainants said Gutierrez, who is closely associated with the Arroyos, 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," they said. The groups said the Filipino people deserve an Ombudsman who will perform her constitutional mandate to protect them from graft and corruption and not someone who condones and in the essence protects the thieves and traitors it was mandated to prosecute. The complaint was endorsed by Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casiño. It was the second complaint filed against Gutierrez in the 15th Congress. First complaint The first complaint, filed by former Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros, resigned Army general Danilo Lim and spouses Felipe and Evelyn Pestaño, has yet to be referred to the committee on justice which is supposed to hear it. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte had referred Hontiveros’ complaint to the rules committee, which is supposed to refer it to the plenary for it to be included in the order of business, before it is passed on to the appropriate committee. Under the Constitution, only one impeachment proceeding can be initiated against the same official within a period of one year. The one-year period will start once the justice committee starts hearing the complaint. In an interview with reporters, Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said it is up to the justice committee under Iloilo Rep. Neil Tupas if it will consolidate the two complaints or choose which one it will recognize. “I don’t want to preempt the justice committee," he said. The members of the rules committee, in a meeting Tuesday afternoon, agreed to provisionally adopt the rules that govern the impeachment proceedings of the 14th Congress as well as the rules that govern inquiries in aid of legislation, Gonzales said. He believed they would be able to refer the first impeachment complaint to the justice committee Wednesday, the earliest, or next week, the latest.— KBK/RSJ, GMANews.TV