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Palace fires deputy ombudsman

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 2) Malacañang has dismissed Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III for gross neglect of duty and gross misconduct in handling the dismissal of Rolando Mendoza, the dismissed police officer who terrorized a group of Hong Kong tourists in a bloody hostage drama at Manila’s Rizal Park in August 2010.

In its 15-page decision handed down on March 31 and signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, the Office of the President said Gonzalez committed “gross neglect” when the Incident Investigation Review Committee (IIRC) found “an inordinate and unjustified delay” in the resolution of the motion for reconsideration (MOR) filed by Mendoza in connection with his dismissal from the police service. Malacañang deemed it a “clear neglect of performance of official duty.”

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The IIRC said the delay in the resolution of Mendoza’s motion for reconsideration that spanned nine months “constituted a flagrant disregard of the Office of the Ombudsman’s own Rules of Procedure which require that the resolution be made within a period of only five days from the submission thereof,” the decision said.

Gonzalez was also found to have committed “gross misconduct” when he demanded from Mendoza P150,000 in exchange for the fast resolution of his MOR, according to the decision.

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It said that “had the respondent Deputy Ombudsman not betrayed the trust of Captain Mendoza, the latter would not have been compelled to resort to hostage-taking to advance his cause.”

“This decision reflects this Administration’s commitment to hold those responsible for the hostage-taking incident accountable,” it said.

“Those of us who serve government must be cognizant of the fact that people are affected by our failure to fulfill our responsibilities. In this case, lives were not only affected, they were lost,” it added.

Gonzalez was among those recommended for indictment by the IIRC for the bungled rescue of the hostages last year.

In defending its decision, Ochoa said “No provision in the Constitution of the Ombudsman Act effectively prohibits the President, as the appointing authority, from exercising the power to remove or discipline a Deputy Ombudsman.”

Ochoa made the statement in response to Gonzalez’s argument that only the Ombudsman has authority over him.

For the report, listen to Radyo Inquirer, DZIQ 990.

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, Crime, Grandstand Hostage
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