Text of the Impeachment Complaint filed on July 22, 2010
Republic of the Philippines
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
IN RE IMPEACHMENT OF OMBUDSMAN
MA. MERCEDITAS NAVARRO GUTIERREZ
DANILO D. LIM, FELIPE PESTAÑO,
and EVELYN PESTAÑO,
COMPLAINANTS RISA HONTIVEROS-BARAQUEL, DANILO D. LIM, FELIPE
PESTAÑO, and EVELYN PESTAÑO, through undersigned counsel, respectfully state that –
The Office of the Ombudsman was created under Article XI of the 1987 Constitution as an independent office intended to serve as “protector of the people” principally through taking prompt action on complaints filed against public officials and other employees of the government.
The primordial purpose of the Office the Ombudsman is to enforce public accountability among public officials, through, among other measures, investigating on its own, or upon complaint of any person any act or omission by a public official that appears to be “illegal, unjust, improper, or inefficient,” and, in appropriate cases, instituting the corresponding directives to or initiating prosecution of the responsible officials.
The Ombudsman is thus vested with expansive authority and broad discretion in fulfilling its mandate of enforcing public accountability within the ranks of the government service. It is expected not to merely stand as a passive receiver of complaints from the public, but to take a proactive role in rooting out corruption and impropriety in government. It is empowered not merely to enforce the express commands of black letter law but to take action on any act or omission that may be “unjust, improper, or inefficient.”
For in the end, the Office of the Ombudsman is envisioned as the ultimate bulwark that the Filipino people may rely on against government abuse and official corruption, from the lowest to the highest echelons of the public service.
Sadly, the current holder of this crucial Office, Ma. Merceditas Navarro-Gutierrez – in the nearly five years since her appointment to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of the previous Ombudsman, Simeon V. Marcelo – has failed to live up to this role.
During her watch, the Office of the Ombudsman, far from being an effective and reliable recourse for ordinary citizens seeking succor and relief from government abuse, has become a place where complaints of official wrongdoing go to languish, wither, and ultimately be forgotten. In many instances, some of which will be discussed in this Impeachment Complaint, Ombudsman Navarro-Gutierrez has unconscionably neglected to ensure that prompt and effective action is taken on complaints from the public filed with her office.
Similarly, the Office of the Ombudsman, under the stewardship of Navarro-Gutierrez, has become alarmingly and unjustifiably passive in taking on prominent issues involving corruption and malfeasance at the highest levels of government. Instead of instituting investigations on its own, as it is expressly empowered – in fact, arguably required – to do so by the Constitution, it has sat quietly even in the face of the most scandalous reports of official impropriety, waiting for private citizens, or other government offices, to take up the very causes it was created to address. This Impeachment Complaint will likewise take up some of these instances.
Finally, the effectiveness of the Office of the Ombudsman under Navarro-Gutierrez in holding erring public officials to account by instituting successful prosecutions before the appropriate courts and tribunals has likewise degraded to a distressing and unacceptable degree. As this Impeachment Complaint will again show, an empirical and objective assessment of the performance as prosecutor of the Office of the Ombudsman under Navarro-Gutierrez, clearly establishes an intolerable, if not criminal, level of incompetence.