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On the resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez

Privileged Speech delivered by Rep. Teddy Casino

Bayan Muna Party List
May 9, 2011

Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues.

I rise to avail of the privilege hour to speak about the resignation of Ombudsman
Merceditas Gutierrez.

Last April 29, ten days before the opening of her impeachment trial in the Senate,
Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez resigned, saying that she did not want the House,
the Senate, the Executive and the nation at large to be consumed by her removal
from public office. She said she would rather that we focus instead on the impelling
problems of our people.

Well, that is exactly what we wanted to do with her impeachment – focus on the
impelling problem of corruption and remove the biggest stumbling block to holding
the corrupt, former President and her officials accountable for their crimes.

Yun sana ang habol natin sa trial, mailabas ang buong katotohanan tungkol sa
kanyang pananagutan sa pagtatakip ng mga kaso ni dating pangulong Gloria Arroyo
at kanyang mga opisyal.

Her trial in the Senate would have further exposed her gross, inexcusable delays
and inaction on cases involving the former president and her corrupt officials, but her
deliberate acts to whitewash and sabotage said cases. Not only that, it would have
exposed the accountabilities as well of her patron, the former president.

And so she resigned to cut her losses as well as the losses of Mrs. Arroyo.

Kung natuloy lang ang impeachment trial, siguradong tanggal si Ombudsman

Gutierrez sa pwesto at muling masasariwa sa publiko ang napakaraming anomalya
ng nagdaang administrasyon.

Isang halimbawa lang ng mga dagdag na ebidensya na nakuha ng ating mga
complainants, congressmen-prosecutors, private prosecutors at volunteers ay ang
pagsabotahe ni Ombudsman Gutierrez sa kaso ng GMA fertilizer fund scam.

Ayon sa mga insider na kanilang nakausap, ang mismong panel ng mga

imbestigador na itinayo ng kanyang Field Investigation Office, ang Task Force
Abono, ay tinalian niya ng kamay at kinalaunan ay binuwag. Paano ito ginawa? It
would be instructive to see how the Ombudsman undermined her own Task Force

On Feb. 28, 2006, Task Force Abono convened and started its investigations. Within
weeks, in March of 2006, Ombudsman Gutierrez issued a Memorandum Order
requiring that all resolutions, decisions, fact-finding reports, investigation reports
and/or orders shall be approved by the Ombudsman herself. This became a
stumbling bloc to the filing of cases by the assistant ombudsman. Prior to such order,
the assistant ombudsman was authorized to approve fact-finding and/or investigation
reports for the filing of case/s for preliminary investigation or for administrative
adjudication. The approval of the Ombudsman was required only if the
recommendation was for the closure of investigation/dismissal of a complaint.
Samakatuwid, binago ng Ombudsman ang proseso at tiniyak na walang makakapag-
file ng kaso laban sa mga sangkot sa fertilizer fund scam kung hindi dadaan sa
kanya. At totoo nga, wala siyang inaprubahang pag-file ng kaso sa loob ng limang

On June 2006, the first of 30 reports of Task Force Abono reached the
Ombudsman’s office. It recommended the filing of criminal complaints against
Jocelyn Joc-Joc Bolante, several congressmen, LGU officials, and private individuals
for violating Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code as well as Sections 3 (e) and (g)
of Republic Act 3019. It also recommended administrative cases against incumbent
officials and the suspension of said public officials pursuant to Section 24, Republic
Act 6770. The Ombudsman subsequently sat on these recommendations.

A month later on July 2006, the second report was submitted to the Ombudsman. It
recommended criminal charges for violation of RA 3019 Sec. 3 (e) and (g) against 15
public officials and private persons, including those connected to Feshan Philippines,
one of the suppliers of the fake and overpriced liquid fertilizers, for violation of RA

9184 Sec. 65 (b) subparagraph 4. Public officials were likewise recommended to be
charged for Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best
Interest of the Service and slapped suspension orders. Again, the Ombudsman sat
on the case.

Task Force Abono’s investigations continued the following year until April 2007. By
this time, the Ombudsman had centralized the approval of all travel authorities and
was making it hard for Task Force Abono to travel outside Metro Manila to secure
records, documents and reports from different COA Auditors’ Offices in Cebu, Davao
and other areas, as well as to secure Sworn Statements of witnesses in the Fertilizer

When Task Force Abono conducted paper trails on the money disbursed in the
Fertilizer Scam and found out that several CHECKS in payment to alleged fertilizer
suppliers were deposited to a BANK ACCOUNT maintained at Land Bank,
Department of Agriculture Extension Branch, Elliptical Road, Quezon City, the
Ombudsman issued a Memorandum Order requiring that ALL request or referral to
the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for documents, information, or for the
conduct of bank account examination of subjects of investigation in the Ombudsman
be coursed through the Ombudsman for approval. This effectively thwarted efforts to
conduct a more expansive and deeper investigation of the paper trail.

Despite such acts by the Ombudsman, the Task Force persevered. By July 2007,
Task Force Abono submitted not less than thirty (30) Investigation Reports in the
Fertilizer Fund Scam, all recommending the filing of criminal and administrative
charges against the concerned public officials and private persons found to have
involvement in the scam.

Pero ano po ang ginawa ng Ombudsman sa mga report na ito? Wala.

In fact, rather than support the Task Force in its zeal to prosecute the case,
Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez transferred one of the co-chairmen of the FIO to
the Preliminary, Administrative and Monitoring Office (PAMO), effectively relieving
him of his position in the Task Force and putting him in the freezer. This was in
August 9, 2007. A week later, on August 16, 2007, The other co-chairman of Task
Force Abono was also relieved for no reason and directed to report to his

subordinate, a junior officer, the latter being designated as his replacement as the
OIC-Director of the Asset Investigation Bureau. This caused the person’s

The transfer and subsequent relieve of the two co-chairmen effectively disbanded
the Task Force Abono and stopped the conduct of the case build-up and gathering
of evidences.

Mr. Speaker, my colleagues, kitang-kita dito na hindi lang nagpabaya si Ombudsman

Gutierrez kundi aktibong kumilos para talian ang kamay ng mga imbestigador at itigil
ang imbestigasyon. For this, she deserves not only impeachment but criminal and
administrative charges, in particular Sec. 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices
Act and Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code, among others.

It is important to note that in her resignation statement, Ombudsman Gutierrez never

acknowledged her shortcomings. Sa kabliktaran, nagyabang pa siya na siya ay
isang mahusay na Ombudsman at parang siya pa ang biktima. Hindi pwedeng
ganyan na lang, na para bang tayo pa ang may utang na loob sa kanya sa kanyang
pagre-resign. Her resignation does not and should not get her off the hook.

Thus, we expect other sectors, particularly the farmers groups and other
complainants of the impeachment complaint, to pursue such charges in the courts.
We urge the House, specifically the Justice Committee, to extend assistance to such
initiatives from our people.

More importantly for the House, I think it is important that we conduct an inquiry, in
pursuit of our legislative and oversight powers, on how the processes within the
Ombudsman has been so designed to make it vulnerable to delay and corruption.
For example, the way cases have been dribbled between the Field Investigation
Office and the Preliminary, Administrative and Management Office (PAMO). Or the
way the Ombudsman has centralized all resolutions and reports to her office, thereby
undermining the powers of her deputies. Or how centralizing all requests to the Anti-
Money Laundering Council (AMLAC) has made it harder for investigators to conduct
paper trails of stolen money.

Pero yan ho ay sa usapin ng Ombudsman lamang. The more pressing thing now is

to hold accountable the person who the Ombudsman was protecting – and that is
former President Gloria Arroyo.

Last year, this representation filed a case in the DOJ against the former president on
the issue of the NBN-ZTE contract. A group of human rights advocates have filed
cases as well for extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances during her term.
A few weeks ago, former solicitor general Frank Chavez filed plunder cases against
the former President. Now that Ombudsman Gutierrez has resigned, we expect more
cases to be filed. And we expect the new Ombudsman to act on these cases with

We said it then and we repeat, Ombudsman Gutierrez was impeached for protecting
the former President. If she has resigned and is being held accountable for this, what
more the former President, who is accountable for graver crimes and anomalies?

The resignation of Ombudsman is a victory in our continuing struggle against

corruption and the protectors of the corrupt. The House should follow through on this
through its legislative and oversight functions as well as support initiatives of our
people to hold accountable not only former Ombudsman Gutierrez but the people
she was protecting.#