Impeach rap looms vs Ombudsman Gutierrez

Posted at 11/26/08 11:40 PM

Critics blame Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez for the dismissal of the graft and extortion cases against her old boss in the justice department former secretary Hernando “Nani” Perez.

Based on the decisions of two Sandiganbayan divisions not only did the Ombudsman take too long to file the case in court it failed to show that Perez’s actions amount to the crime being alleged.

Sen. Pia Cayetano was dismayed a celebrated corruption case was dismissed because someone in the Office of the Ombudsman did not do his - or in this case her job.

“When these things happen I think heads should roll?.... Imagine a dismissal based on a technicality? It’s embarrassing!” said Cayetano.

Critics also suspect the delay and the defects were deliberate.

Aside from his ties with Gutierrez, Perez has known connections with President Arroyo whom he served.

Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada said he believes this was obvious from the beginning when the Ombudsman sued Perez for extortion instead of plunder which carries a much heavier penalty.

Perez was charged with allegedly extorting $2 million or roughly P100 million in exchange for the approval of a power contract between the government and Argentine company IMPSA.

"My take on it is that case was really set to fail so that the people could no longer go after Nani Perez,” said Estrada.

But being a constitutional office the Ombudsman must first be impeached before he or she can be held to account for any offense.

Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas II said the Liberal Party (LP) which he heads is studying the possible filing of an impeachment complaint against Gutierrez.

“It’s the only check and balance against the Ombudsman, In my opinion it’s timely to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez for failure to do her duty,” said Roxas, LP president.

Officials from the Office of the Ombudsman however insisted there was no inordinate delay in filing the Perez case.

They vow to appeal the Sandiganbayan rulings.