Justice panel to vote on probable cause for impeachment on Tuesday

BENDING backwards for the sake of fair play and due process, Chairman
Niel Tupas, Jr. is giving Ombudsman Merciditas Gutierrez until
Tuesday, March 8, to personally answer the charges in the two separate
impeachment complaints before the Committee on Justice.

“We have been bending backwards just to ensure that due process is not
negated to anyone.  Whether the Ombudsman appears or not on Tuesday,
the committee will decide and vote on whether there is probable cause
for impeachment,” Tupas said.

The complainants on Wednesday presented their evidences and related
documents to support their charges against embattled Gutierrez who
snubbed the hearing but sent her counsel, Atty. Anacleto Diaz, to
manifest before the committee her plea for time extension to answer
all the charges in the two separate complaints.

Based on a general perspective, the arguments and evidences presented
by the complainants centered more on omission than commission by the
Ombudsman which they claim were a “betrayal of Public Trust and
culpable violation of the Constitution.”

The Ombudsman, for the second time this week failed to heed the call
of lawmakers to face her detractors and personally answer the charges
hurled against her in two separate complaints earlier found by the
Tupas committee as having sufficiency in grounds for impeachment.

Chairman Tupas, following a vote on a motion by vice chairman Rodolfo
Farinas to grant the legal team brief moments to present their
client’s manifestation for time extension to submit her response to
the complaints, granted the time sought by the counsel.

There were countless times when members, particularly Farinas and
deputy Speaker Erin Tanada, reiterated their call for the Ombudsman to
face her accusers in  open public hearing as an accountable public

“It is her responsibility to our sovereign people to explain and
clarify the issues brought before this committee,” Farinas stressed.

Deputy Speaker Tanada made clear that the move to suspend the Rules to
give way for the legal team’s manifestation should not be considered
as a precedent in future impeachment proceedings.  Under the rules of
the House, only members and invited resource persons and guests are
allowed to address and participate in the deliberations of the
impeachment body.

Tanada earlier clarified that even as he could not buy the idea that
the Ombudsman did not have enough time to read and answer
point-by-point the complaints, for fairness’ sake he did not object to
allow the Ombudsman’s counsel to make a manifestation before the

Tanada’s argument that the Ombudsman had all the time to appreciate
the points raised in the complaints was echoed by, among others, Rep.
Teddy Casino and former Solicitor General Frank Chavez who lamented
that the cases filed relative to the Euro generals, the Mega Pacific
and the fertilizer scam were not acted on by the Ombudsman.

“This is not only an abandonment of her constitutional mandate but
obstruction of justice,” Chavez told the committee.

The Tupas panel is also expected to issue a subpoena duces tecum all
available pertinent documents relative to the cases involving the
so-called Euro generals, the Mega Pacific, and the fertilizer scam for
the panel to appreciate the charges of non-action on the part of the

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