Impeachment complainants vow to pin down Ombudsman in Senate trial

AS THE House of Representatives announced the possible transmittal of the impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Gutierrez to the Upper House anytime Tuesday, complainants to the impeachment case against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez today vow to pin down the controversial ombudsman once the House of Representatives votes on the impeachment complaint and submit the complaint to Senate for trial.

In a  statement, impeachment complainant and witness to the P 728-million fertilizer fund scam Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) secretary general Danilo Ramos said more farmer victims and complainants on the 2004 fertilizer fund scandal will come out in the open and tell the impeachment court of the Ombudsman’s institutional massacre of the plunder complaint filed against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other officials of the previous administration.

“We are politically prepared and agitated to have a face-to-face encounter with Ombudsman Gutierrez and score a giant kill against this triple-platinum puppet of the former ruling Arroyo syndicate in Malacanang,” the KMP official said.

Ramos said peasant leaders and witnesses from Panay Island, Central Luzon,  Cagayan Valley  and other parts of  the country have signified their intention to testify once the Senate transforms itself into an impeachment court for the trial of Ombudsman Gutierrez.

On June 2004, KMP, the activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and peasant women federation Amihan filed a plunder complaint against former President Arroyo, former agriculture secretary Cito Lorenzo and former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante in connection with the P 728-million fertilizer fund scam, which they said were used to fund the presidential campaign of Arroyo in May 2004 elections.

“The removal of Gutierrez from the Office of the Ombudsman should give way to the grand trial of Arroyo and company for plunder and other criminal and administrative charges,” added Ramos.

The plunder case against President Arroyo arising from P 728-million fertilizer fund scam is the first complaint filed by KMP and allied organizations. In 2005, the peasant group also filed a plunder complaint against business tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr over the still unsettled P 150-billion coconut levy fund.

Ramos maintained that the P 728-M fertilizer fund scam and the P 150-B coconut levy fund complaints were not addressed by Ombudsman Gutierrez. “We have religiously followed the status of these plunder complaints but the Office of the Ombudsman patently dishes out those Jurassic excuses of incompetency and ambiguity,” he said.

The same sentiment was echoed by Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap. According to the fisherfolk leader, Pamalakaya also filed two plunder complaints against former President Arroyo and other officials of her administration.

The first plunder and criminal complaint filed by Pamalakaya at office of the Ombudsman was on Feb.14, 2006 concerning the issue of Rapu-Rapu oil spill in Albay in 2005, the offshore mining in Tanon Strait and the distribution of more than 4,000 environmental compliance certificates by then Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Michael Defensor in 2005.

The second plunder complaint filed by Pamalakaya against ex-President Arroyo and former agriculture secretary Arthur Yap was done on January 6 last year in connection with the overpriced procurement of 98 ice-making machines amounting to P 455-million worth of taxpayers’ money.

“Gutierrez’s impeachment and outright ouster from the Office of the Ombudsman is long overdue. The House of Representatives should not miss this opportunity of sending the Ombudsman to trial and that the Senate should finish trial in soonest time possible,” said Hicap.

Tomorrow, Bayan, KMP and Pamalakaya will stage a picket rally at the gate of the House of Representatives to call on congressmen to cross party lines and vote in favor the impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Gutierrez.

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