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Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez resigns

April 29, 2011

By MARK JOSEPH UBALDE, LIRA FERNANDEZ and CHICHI CONDE
InterAksyon.com

OMBUDSMAN Merceditas Gutierrez tendered her resignation on Friday, just two weeks before the scheduled Senate impeachment trial.

A tweet from the Department of Interior and Local Government’s Twitter account confirmed the news at 12:16 p.m.

According to a report by Interaksyon.com, Gutierrez personally submitted her one-page resignation letter to President Benigno Aquino III in Malacanang.  Aquino accepted the Ombudsman’s resignation, which will take effect on May 6.

Gutierrez has been impeached by the House of Representatives through an overwhelming 212-46 vote.

Aquino had also repeatedly voiced his distrust of Gutierrez and even urged his allies in Congress to secure her impeachment and eventual ouster.

Palace spokesperson Ricky Carandang had earlier asked Gutierrez to resign and “spare the nation from the national trauma of having to go through the impeachment process.”

“If she resigns, it will be less painful to the nation,” he  said.

Last month, Gutierrez lamented that her almost 40 years in public service would only end in attacks that she said were baseless.

Nakakalungkot, sa paglilingkod mo sa gobyerno…Nagtatrabaho ko nang husto…tapos may kaso ng ganitong suspetsa na wala namang basis. Nakakalungkot, buti pa di na lang pumasok sa gobyerno (It’s saddening…I’ve been working so hard and then there are these baseless allegations. Maybe it could have been better if I did not work in government),” Gutierrez said at Tuesday’s press conference in her office in Quezon City.

Gutierrez also denied that she was the Office of the Ombudsman’s “gatekeeper.”

Among the charges raised against Gutierrez are her alleged inaction on the P728 million fertilizer fund scam, in which government funds were allegedly funneled into Gloria Arroyo’s presidential campaign in 2004; and the botched national broadband network deal with China’s ZTE Corp., to which the former president, her husband Jose Miguel, and close political allies were linked.

The rest of the six allegations contained in the articles of impeachment are:

• Gutierrez’ alleged inaction on the election automation deal between the Commission on Elections and MegaPacific Corp., which the Supreme Court nullified for being anomalous

• Her alleged inaction on the case of the “euro generals,” a party of police generals who were discovered to have brought millions of pesos worth of euros with them to a conference in Russia, after one of them was caught with the cash at the Moscow airport

• The allegedly inexcusable delay of Gutierrez’ office in investigating the death of Navy Ensign Philip Pestaño, who allegedly committed suicide onboard his ship but who is believed to have been murdered after stumbling onto anomalies by his superiors

• The allegedly dismal performance of the Office of the Ombudsman as shown by its low conviction rate

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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”
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