MANILA, Philippines ? Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez's resignation is a good thing for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which has been shaken by a corruption exposé triggered by the Office of the Ombudsman's plea bargain with a former chief military comptroller.
Former longtime military budget officer retired lieutenant colonel George Rabusa exposed the systemic diversion of military funds and the multi-million ?pabaon? and ?pasalubong? (sendoff) cash gifts to past top AFP officials during the Senate hearings reviewing the Ombudsman's deal with dismissed major general Carlos Garcia.
?This is good because the Armed Forces and the nation will be saved from the harrowing experience of an impeachment process. We can all focus on what we're doing without being distracted by an impeachment [trial] which will be a media affair,? AFP spokesman Commodore Miguel Rodriguez said when reached for comment.
The concurrent AFP deputy chief of staff for civil military operations (J7) said Gutierrez's impeachment trial before the Senate scheduled to start next month would have drawn attention away from other news.
"It would be like watching the Rabusa [exposé]. For lunch we had Rabusa, Garcia. For dinner we again had Rabusa, Garcia. We were overwhelmed. So it will be like that. We will be watching [the impeachment trial] instead of doing developmental efforts,? Rodriguez said.
The AFP has formally opposed before the Sandiganbayan the plea bargain with Garcia which allowed the disgraced former comptroller to be released on bail.
AFP officials have decried as unfair the resulting public perception that the military is the most corrupt government agency, beating perennial topnotchers?the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Philippine National Police.