MANILA, Philippines ? Don?t resign. Face the impeachment trial.
Contrary to calls of some groups, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares wants Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez removed from office by conviction of an impeachment court, rather than by quietly stepping down.
Colmenares, one of the seven lawmakers drafting the committee report of the justice panel on Gutierrez?s impeachment, expressed optimism they have an airtight case against the Ombudsman when it reaches the Senate.
?Please, do not resign. Face the impeachment trial so that we can prove to the nation that we have evidence against you,? Colmenares said in a telephone interview.
Colmenares is joined in the team by Representatives Rodolfo Fariñas (Ilocos Norte), Lorenzo Tañada III (Quezon), Reynaldo Umali (Oriental Mindoro), Arlene Bag-ao (Akbayan partylist), Elpidio Barzaga Jr. (Cavite) and Raul Daza (Northern Samar).
Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr. heads the justice committee that conducted the impeachment hearings.
The committee report will contain the findings of the committee that there is probable cause to impeach Gutierrez for betrayal of public trust.
The grounds for her impeachment is based on six allegations, namely:
? the Office of the Ombudsman?s low conviction rate of pending cases;
? Gutierrez?s inaction on the alleged murder case of Navy Ensign Philip Pestañ;
? her failure to prosecute officials involved in the botched national broadband network agreement with Chinese firm ZTE Corporation;
? her failure to act promptly on the anomalous disbursement of funds and other anomalous transactions in the case of the P728-million fertilizer fund scam;
? the Commission on Elections contract with MegaPacific Corp., and
? the case of the generals who stashed away thousands of euros in Russia.
Clearly, the fertilizer fund scam and the case of the Euro generals stand as the strongest allegations against Gutierrez, according to Colmenares, Tañada and Fariñas.
Fariñas said the fertilizer fund scam was backed by documents, including two Senate committee reports, recommending cases against erring officials involved in the scandal.
Colmenares added that aside from the Senate committee reports, there were also Commission on Audit findings and a recommendation by Gutierrez?s own fact-finding team to file charges against officials, but that these were not acted by the Ombudsman.
?Of course, all six cases are strong, but we have to organize it in a way that the senators who will try the case will see which should merit the Ombudsman?s conviction,? Colmenares said.
He said the team will meet late Friday to check the draft of the committee report.