Hontiveros says Merci’s “firm posturing” to cave in with their rock-solid evidence
“Ang nagtitibay-tibayan na ombudsman ay lalambot sa matibay na ebidensiya.”
This was the statement issued by former Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros who presented her group’s evidence today against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez before the House Committee on Justice which is hearing the impeachment complaints against the ombudsman.
Hontiveros, who is the principal complainant to the first impeachment complaint filed against Gutierrez expressed confidence over the evidence that she presented together with her co-complainants before the committee.
The other complainants to the case are retired Brigadier General Danilo Lim and Felipe and Evelyn Pestano, parents of slain Philippine Navy Ensign Phillip Andrew Pestano.
“The evidence against Gutierrez is strong. We have in our possession indisputable information that will prove that the ombudsman is guilty of culpable violation of the constitution and betrayal of public trust. We have empirical evidence and clear basis to say that Gutierrez as an ombudsman was a disservice to the public,” Hontiveros said.
“The unyielding stance of Gutierrez will cave in to our rock-solid evidence,” Hontiveros added.
Hontiveros cited seven grounds for the impeachment of Gutierrez:
• The dismal and unconscionably low conviction rates achieved by the Office of the Ombudsman from 2008 onward, which indicates a criminal level of incompetence amounting to grave dereliction of duty;
• The unreasonable failure to take prompt and immediate action of the complaints filed against various public officials, including former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo with regard to the national broadband network deal with the Chinese firm ZTE Corporation;
• The delay in conducting and concluding its investigation into the wrongful death of ensign Philip Andrew Pestano aboard a Navy Vessel 15 years ago;
• The decision of the Ombudsman upholding the legality and arrest and involuntary detention of Hontiveros in a rally in 2006;
• The failure to investigate the possible wrongdoing and impropriety of the P1-million dinner for the presidential party at the Le Cirque restaurant in New York;
• The repeated failure to take prompt action on a wide variety of cases involving official abuse and corruption; and,
• The refusal to grant ready access to public records such as the Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth of public officials.
“As such, we urge Gutierrez to just resign and save the country the time, resources and energy in this process,” Hontiveros said.
But the former partylist lawmaker said if Gutierrez will continue to stay as ombudsman despite strong public pressure for her to leave her post, “she should suffer the consequences of her actions.”
“Our quest for truth, accountability and justice will spare no one. If Gutierrez will continue with her gratuitous hard posturing, then the people will have no recourse but to impeach her,” Hontiveros asserted.
For his part, Felipe Pestano said the case of his son is one of the best illustrations of Gutierrez’s ineptitude as a “dispenser of justice.”
“Sa loob ng limang taon, hinintay namin ang Ombudsman na tugunan ang kaso ng aming anak, ngunit isang linggo pa lamang ang nakalipas mula ng sumama kami sa impeachment complaint laban sa kanya, ang kaso na kanyang inupuan ay kanilang binasura,” Pestano said.
It was reported that the Ombudsman in a joint resolution promulgated on June 2009 but was only received July last year, ruled that the petitioners failed to cite substantial evidence to prove that Pestano was murdered and did not commit suicide.
“The inefficiency of the ombudsman in handling this case is appalling. Beyond their flawed ruling, the conflicting dates of the decision add salt to injury. The decision was promulgated on June 2009 but was only approved May of last year. Then it took another 2 months before we received information that the case was decided. Para kaming pinaglalaruan dito,” Pestano said.
Pestano appealed to the committee to see the merits of their case.
Son was a whistleblower
“My son, like Heidi Mendoza and Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada was also a whistleblower, a brave truth teller who wasn’t able to reveal the entire truth because he was taken from us by those that benefit from corrupt practices,” Pestano said.
“Please do not fail Phillip, his sacrifice and his cause. Give us some sense of justice. Remove Gutierrez from the office of the ombudsman,” Pestano concluded.
It was reported that Pestano was allegedly murdered on September 27, 1995 because he attempted to expose the anomalies taking place in the vessel such as shabu operations amounting to P1 billion and the boarding of logs without proper authorization.
15 years after the alleged murder, justice still evades the Pestano family
On the other hand, Senator Kiko Pangilinan believes that the Ombudsman should have the decency and just resign from office. Her impeachment trial in the Senate will bring the legislative mill to a standstill. The legislative agenda of this administration will face delays if and when the senate trial goes underway. It would be best for the Ombudsman as an institution, for the nation and for all of us, if she just resigns and spares the nation the spectacle of a public trial. The once highly regarded, respected, and feared office of the Ombudsman is no more. What we have is an office that is a complete and total embarrassment to public office and service.”
Meanwhile, Rep Teddy Casino presented the second impeachment case as follows:
Noemi Lardizabal-Dado is a Content Strategist with over 16 years experience in blogging, content management, citizen advocacy and media literacy and over 26 years in web development. Otherwise known as @MomBlogger on social media, she believes in making a difference in the lives of her children by advocating social change for social good.
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Updated June 6, 2022