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PIA Press Release
2010/09/14

SC suspends impeachment proceeding vs Ombudsman

Manila (14 September) -- The Supreme Court has temporarily stopped the House of Representatives from hearing the two impeachment complaints against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

This was confirmed by Court Administrator and SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez on September 14.

The high tribunal cited a pending decision on a petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by Ombudsman Gutierrez Monday against the hearings at the lower chamber, lawyer Midas Marquez said Tuesday.

In the petition, Ombudsman Gutierrez urged the high court to nullify the September 1 and 7, 2010 resolutions of the House justice committee that found the two impeachment complaints sufficient in both form and substance.

Ombudsman Gutierrez had said the committee acted "with indecent and precipitate haste, arbitrarily and whimsically disregarded the clear and express provisions of Section 3(5), Article XI of the 1987 Constitution, which bars more than one impeachment proceeding against the same impeachable officer within a period of one year; Section 13, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, which provides that a complaint must charge only one offense; and Section 8, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, which provides that a complaint must aver acts or omissions constituting the offense."

The complaints, filed separately by former Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros and members of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and other militant groups, accused the Ombudsman of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.

The first complaint stems from what it calls the "dismal and unconscionable low conviction rate of the Ombudsman from 2008"; its "failure to take prompt and immediate action against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo" in connection with the botched National Broadband Network (NBN)-ZTE deal; and, its failure to investigate the controversial P1 M dinner at Le Cirque Restaurant in New York City in August 2009, among others.

The second verified complaint stems from the fertilizer fund scam and other controversies. (PIA 8) [top]

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