Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gutierrez Asks SC: Block Impeachment Proceedings

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Monday, September 13 asked the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the impeachment proceedings against her in the House of Representatives.

In a petition for certiorari and prohibition, Gutierrez asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order to stop the House committee on justice from hearing the two impeachment complaints filed against her by former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and the mliitant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).

Gutierrez claimed the House panel allegedly railroaded the approval of the two impeachment complaints even though the 1987 Constitution bars the hearing of more than one impeachment complaint against the Ombudsman within one year.

Section 3(5), Article XI of the Charter says that "No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official [in this case, Gutierrez] more than once within a period of one year."

"Wherefore... it is respectfully prayed that.. a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction be issued restraining the committee from proceeding with its present impeachment proceedings," reads the petition.

Gutierrez also asked the court to void and set aside the House justice committee’s two resolutions that found the impeachment complaints sufficient in form and substance.

Gutierrrez says the court should conduct a "judicial review" of the issue so that she may be accorded with "plain, speedy, and adequate relief from the arbitrary, capricious, and whimsical exercise" by the House Justice Committee.

In a separate motion, Gutierrez asked the SC to raffle the case to a division immediately.

"Due to extreme urgency and in order not to render any judgment in the case ineffectual, petitioner Gutierrez has sought immediate injunctive relief from the Honorable Court. Thus, there is a need to immediately raffle the case so that the Honorable Court may include the same in its agenda (on Tuesdsay) and consider petitioner Gutierrez’ urgent plea," said the motion.

Gutierrez’ ties with the Arroyos

Gutierrez, who has been named to the post in 2005, has been accused of protecting former President Gloria M. Arroyo and her husband, former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo. Gutierrez and Mr. Arroyo are batch mates at the Ateneo School of Law.

Gutierrez allegedly sat on cases where the former First Couple have been implicated.
Hontiveros’ impeachment complaint against her provided a "laundry list" of her alleged wrongdoings as the Ombudsman:

• Alleged failure to act promptly on cases filed against the Arroyo couple and other public officials involved in the alleged overpriced $329-million national broadband network deal, which Mrs. Arroyo suspended in September 2007;

• Allegedly incurring inexcusable delay in the investigation on the death of ensign Philip PestaƱo, a case which the United Nations itself rapped the Ombudsman for failure to probe the case;

• Issuing a decision to uphold the legality of the arrest and involuntary detention of Hontiveros by the Philippine National Police in 2005;

• Alleged failure to investigate the P1-million dinner for the presidential party at the Le Cirque restaurant in New York;

• Alleged repeated failure to take prompt action on various cases involving Mrs. Arroyo such as the Mega-Pacific scam, among others;

• Alleged refusal to grant ready access to public records such as the Statement of Assets, Net Worth and Liabilities of former Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo. (VVP, GMANews.TV) /MP

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