When it rains, it pours.
After years of being protected by Gloria Arroyo’s Malacañang, House of Representatives,and Supreme Court, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is getting it from all directions.
Click on related documents:
Executive Summary Blue Ribbon report on Carlos Garcia Plea BargainAgreement
Last Monday, the House Justice committee voted that there’s probable cause to impeach Gutierrez for betrayal of public trust on five cases at the same time that the Supreme Court denied with finality her motion for reconsideration to stop the House from proceeding with her impeachment.
The Senate Blue Ribbon committee came out Thursday with a partial report saying that their investigation on the plea bargain agreement entered into by the office of Gutierrez with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia was a breach of official duty and a betrayal of public trust.
The Committee called for the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and the dismissal of the special prosecutors who handled the plea bargaining agreement saying they were “grossly negligent” and may have deliberately weakened the case against the former AFP comptroller.
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chair Senator TG Guingona III pointed out the instances that showed gross negligence on the part of the Ombudsman and the prosecutorial team: First, the consent of the offended party, the Filipino people – represented by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Department of Justice and the Solicitor General – was not obtained for the plea bargaining agreement; Second, the prosecution did not insist on the return of the P128 Million earlier withdrawn by Gen. Garcia; Third, the plea bargaining agreement was disadvantageous to the government since the cases against the family of Gen. Garcia were dropped and Gen. Garcia was only required to return P135 Million out of the P300 Million under litigation.
“These acts constitute grave inexcusable negligence,” Guingona said.
To spare the nation of stress of an impeachment trial, Guingona asked Gutierrez to “please resign.”
Gutierrez, a classmate and close friend of Gloria Arroyo’s husband, Mike, remained defiant declaring, “I’m ready, anytime, anywhere.” She accused administration legislators of “bullying” her.
The Garcia plea bargain agreement is not included in the impeachment complaint in the House which is expected to reach the Senate for trial. But it surely would be in the minds of the senators who would be sitting as judge in the impeachment trial. Definitely, that would be in the minds of the people as they watch the Senate how they would handle Gutierrez.
In her press conference, Gutierrez asked media to look at the signatories to the Blue Ribbon committee report. I get from the tone of her statement that she was taking it in her favor those who signed “with reservation”.
But as Sen. Francis Escudero explained, he had to write the “reservation” when he signed it so as not to “tarnish” his impartiality as a judge in the Gutierrez impeachment trial. In fact, Gutierrez’s lawyer, Salvador Panelo, has said they will be asking senators who have made public statements against Gutierrez to inhibit in the impeachment trial.
It has to be pointed out that the report is still being passed around the committee members and some may still sign it in the coming days.
Let’s take a look at it signatories to the Blue Ribbon committee report:
Those who signed the report without any reservation: Guingona, Serge Osmeña, Antonio Trillanes IV,Francis Pangilinan.
Those who signed with reservation so as not to affect their impartiality as judge in an impeachment trial: Franklin Drilon, Francis Escudero, Ralph Recto, Manuel Villar, Alan Cayetano, Pia Cayetano,Ramon “Bong” Revilla,and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Joker Arroyo signed with a note: “I did not participate in the proceedings as to enable me to make any kind of judgment.”
Those who did not or have not yet signed are Senate Protempore Jinggoy Estrada, who is an ex-officio member, Edgardo Angara, Miriam Santiago, and Gregorio Honasan. The Senate president traditionally does not sign committee reports.