Ombudsman denies midnight deal

Posted at 05/12/11 5:38 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A spokesman of Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro denied Thursday reports that resigned Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez committed a "midnight deal" when she reversed her own order and reinstated a Bureau of Customs official that had been dismissed.

In a statement, Atty. Mary Rawnsle Lopez said Gutierrez's order reinstating Jose Brigido Nicomedes Yuchongco to his position as Senior Police Chief, Customs Police Division-Enforcement and Security Service at the BOC was not a midnight deal. Gutierrez signed the reinstatement order on May 4, 2011, or 2 days before she was to step down from office.

Lopez said the Ombudsman’s resignation is effective up to the close of office hours of May 6, 2011. "As such, she was authorized to exercise her official functions until May 6, 2011. Hence, she can still act on cases pending before her office," she said.

The Officer of the Ombudsman earlier dismissed Yuchongco from service for failing to disclose his properties in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. Among his undisclosed assets were houses in Batangas and Parañaque, farmland in Albay and lotto winnings.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares urged the next Ombudsman to reverse Gutierrez’s reinstatement of a Customs official she earlier fired.

Colmenares finds it questionable that Gutierrez reversed her own  decision to dismissal from the service and file criminal charges against Customs Police Chief Jose Yuchongco . This after even the appellate court upheld Gutierrez's initial decision when Yupchongco appealed the case to the CA.

Colmenares said it is questionable Gutierrez reversed herself days after she tendered her resignation but before she actually left office.

He said the  case arose after Yupchongco failed the Ombudsman’s lifestyle checks.

Colmenares said that in February 2011, Gutierrez even reprimanded the BOC for not immediately implementing the dismissal order. With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News