Senators side with Aquino on firing of Deputy Ombudsman

Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III was fired by the President for his inaction during the August 2010 hostage taking, and the Philippine Daily Inquirer is reporting that the Office of the Ombudsman is defying that order by the Office of the President.  The Senate President and the Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., Chair of the House committee on Justice likewise agreed with the position of the President.

The Inquirer article goes,

“While the Ombudsman is a constitutional body independent of the executive department, Mr. Aquino exercises supervision and control of this office and its employees, the Senate president said.

“They have to study their position … He has the power to hire and fire; the power to appoint and remove except when the Constitution establishes a different norm of removal, in which case the manner of removal must be followed,” Enrile said.

Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., chair of the House committee on justice, also said Gutierrez had no choice but to follow the President’s decision.

Under the Ombudsman Act, the President has disciplinary authority over the deputies and the special prosecutor, Tupas said.”

Exactly.  The administration is applying pressure on the Ombudsman.  This is the just next in a series of offensives, and will go on until the Ombudsman quits, or is removed from office.

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • manuelbuencamino

    “There is logic in Merci’s position that hire-fire over deputy Ombudsmen resides with other. This may not be what is written in the Constitution, though, but without hire-fire over deputy Ombudsmen, then Merci has been castrated.”

    Checks and balance. In the case of an Ombudsman like Merci, who has no balls literally and figuratively because she is afraid of GMA, the grant of hire-fire powers to the executive is meant to give her what she lacks – balls.

    You see, if her deputies forward recommendations to prosecute she can turn around and tell GMA sorry po ma’am pero wala akong magawa. I have no choice but to endorse their recommendation kasi malalim ang ginawa nilang imbestigasyon at wala akong mahanap na butas lung saan kayo makakalusot. pasyensya na lang po, I have no control over my Ombudsman.

    Suppose it were the other way around and you have a vindictive executive out to persecute his enemies through deputy ombudsmen? The control there is in due process, the courts, and public opinion. Even during GMA’s time she could not get away with using the Ombudsman to persecute her enemies, witness what happened to Binay in Makati and Maliksi in Cavite.

  • I don’t know what my being a law student has to do with my commenting here, but hey, since UPnG called me out:

    @UPnG: The position of the Ombudsman is wrong. See Villaluz v. Zaldivar (G.R. No. L-22754, Dec. 31, 1965) and Ang-Angco v. Castillo (L-17169, Nov. 30, 1963). The power to appoint includes the power to discipline and dismiss. More so that the law explicitly provides for this power, as cited by Cocoy above.

    Merci’s impeachment case is not weakened by this development. The factual basis for the impeachment complaint against Merci is different from the factual basis on which Gonzales was dismissed. If anything, as Gonzales’ direct supervisor, that simply adds to her list of instances of negligence and betrayal of public trust.

    MannyB is correct. Once a person has been charged with plunder, as it is an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua, then the person goes to jail without bail. That is one of the reasons why there was an uproar on the Garcia plea bargain, as the actual charge he pleaded to allowed him to go free on bail due to the much lower penalty.

    Your fears are unfounded, as is normal for most of your posts. The President cannot order the Ombudsman to charge anyone with anything without following due process. If he does so, then it is the President who exceeds his authority.

    @Thai Anton, the LTO is still under investigation, as they are precisely following the due process you harp over. If you have evidence against the LTO, then be a good citizen and share it with the proper authorities, not here.

  • UP nn grad

    by bi-political, do you mean pro-Binay on some days and pro-Mar Roxas on others (and anti both of them on other days)? Doncha worry, am always listening to how Valte highlights events Noynoy accomplishments.

    Do you realize that cocoy’s commentaries above adds confusion to the storyline? I would like to believe (as deLima says it is so) that the firing is because of the P150,000 bribery or extortion during Quirino grandstand but cocoy writes “…The administration is applying pressure on the Ombudsman. This is the just next in a series of offensives, and will go on until the Ombudsman quits, or is removed from office.

    Ang gulo ng istorya… but politics is politics, hindi palaging one plus one is extortion.

    • Cocoy

      it is only confusing to people who nitpick, and apparently can’t understand basic english.

      • UP nn grad

        hah hah hah… good one, cocoy. I also like ManuelB’s “…flower pot … battle scene”, both you and him can embellish facts to get your points across.

    • manuel buencamino

      “by bi-political, do you mean pro-Binay on some days and pro-Mar Roxas on others (and anti both of them on other days)?”

      no that would be tri-political. Besides what extras do in a movie do not distract me from the main characters. But then as cocoy pointed out, you are the type who will be more concerned over the placement of a flower pot in a panoramic battle scene.

  • UP,

    Why are you ccomplaining?

    The President is going by the book. You were angry when he didn’t fire anybody right after the hostage crisis and now you are angry that he fired somebody.

    You’re sounding like Edcel Lagman. He bitched and whined when the President urged Congress to impeach the Ombudsman and then he bitched and whined when the President did not urge Congress to pass the RH Bill.

    You can’t have both ways that is unless you are bi-political.

  • Thai anton

    Due Process. Not because King Pnoy abnoy say so. I haven’t heard any heads rolling from agency like LTO ,where each employee have their own cash register.

  • Bert

    “Last line against Executive Branch arrogating power that does not belong to it —- Supreme Court.”-UP n

    Totally agree with UP n.

    Except that when a CJ of the SC had shown biases in favor of his former boss, I totally disagree with UP n.

  • UP nn grad

    Actually, this firing of the deputy Ombudsman weakens the case against Merci. (This is my opinion — ManuelB or cocoy or law-student raggster can disagree.) My line of reasoning should be evident —– Makalanyang has demonstrated that it has the power to get more productivity out of the Office of the Ombudsman. Lethargy and sloth inside the office is not solely at the discretion of Merci — Makalanyang has authority to provide additional resources (money, investigators, etcetera) to the Officeof Ombudsman. Makalanyang has has fire-authority over the deputies and to remind the clerks, messengers, the deputy ombudsmen and the Ombudsman herself what they are supposed to focus on.

    • GabbyD

      “Makalanyang has authority to provide additional resources (money, investigators, etcetera) to the Officeof Ombudsman”

      yes, but who controls the spending? the deputy?

    • UP nn grad

      In fact, one can push the business model to its extreme — this model that Makalanyang has fire-authority over the deputy ombudsmen.

      The Makalanyang action is straightforward — Malacanang completely bypasses Merci (Merci can pick the cases she works on — that’s per the 1987 Cory Aquino Constitution. But all the deputy ombudsmen will be under the supervision of Makalanyang.

      This means this — Makalanyang lets loose the deputy ombudsmen on the AFP-plunder, the Mapacapagal-highway plunder, the Le Circque estafa and the NAIA cost-overrun cases that the is now prioritized based on “walang korap walang mahirap” governance model.) If the deputy ombudsmen do not follow Malakanyang directives — fire them!!!!

      • UP nn grad

        There is logic in Merci’s position that hire-fire over deputy Ombudsmen resides with other. This may not be what is written in the Constitution, though, but without hire-fire over deputy Ombudsmen, then Merci has been castrated.

        • Cocoy

          UpnG,

          This is why you are wrong:

          1. SC has already said Truth Commission is a no go. TC is what was suppose to “bypass,” Ombudsman as you put it.

          2. Section 14, Article XI of the Philippine Constitution says:

          “Section 14. The Office of the Ombudsman shall enjoy fiscal autonomy. Its approved annual appropriations shall be automatically and regularly released.”

          • UP nn grad

            I don’t know, cocoy… the threat of getting fired and losing the full retirement benefits — that’s threatening pressure. The office having a budget is one thing, this “…behave, or else I’ll fire you!!!”, that’s another. But JP Enrile does say Merci is not fully their boss and that Macacanang has fire-authority over the deputy ombudsmen, so that’s how it is.

          • UP nn grad

            Noynoy wanting to pressure Merci by firing deputy Ombudsman Gutierrez is “…going constitutional”. Deputy Ombudsman Gutierrez says “…Ombudsman — the entire staff — is out-of-bounds for Executive Branch because that is the intent of the Cory-Aquino constitution.

            It is like the Cory-Aquino constitution wanted an Ombudsman Office where a dictator-type Marcos-like would not be able to exert pressure. If it were Ferdi-Marcos who fired deputy-Ombudsman Gonzales, would would civil-society say FOUL?

          • manuelbuencamino

            “If it were Ferdi-Marcos who fired deputy-Ombudsman Gonzales, would would civil-society say FOUL?”

            If it were him there would be no Ombudsman so don’t even bother with silly hypotheticals like that.

            “The office having a budget is one thing, this “…behave, or else I’ll fire you!!!”, that’s another. But JP Enrile does say Merci is not fully their boss and that Macacanang has fire-authority over the deputy ombudsmen, so that’s how it is.”

            The reason is check and balance. The executive control over subordinates is the mechanism. The Ombudsman could not be allowed to become all powerful, free to prosecute, persecute, or not act at her whim. It was a wise decision as the behavior of the current Ombudsgirl proves.

            And the firing must be for due cause following due process. That is what checks the executive from blackmailing the Ombudsman’s subordinates. And that’s why Sulit and Gonzalez are fighting their dismissal in court.

            As to Jalandoni, the son of Jose Pidal’s chief of staff, I think he did the wais thing because the charges against him would involve his signing orders above and beyond his authority. There will also be questions about his meetings with his father’s former employers.

      • UP nn grad

        “Check” over Ombudsman is Congress — can impeach.

        Like “Check” over Persi-dente is Congress – can impeach.

        and “Check” over grafteee-grafteee members of Congress especially when lazy-DOJ is there… Ombudsman — can file graft charges.

        And “check” over Congress who pass bad laws — Supreme Court. While “check” over Perssidente who persecute-and-harass members of media or “noisy minority” with Truth-Commissions or “fire-them/confiscate their businesses”? Supreme-court, preventing Persidente from arrogating powers that do not belong to Executive Branch.

        • manuelbuencamino

          Impeachment check on Ombudsman was not deemed enough by Congress hence the addition of executive control over her deputies. Have the law amended if you have a problem. Meanwhile the president, who took an oath to enforce the laws, must fulfill his oath and fire deputies who are found wanting.

          Checks on Congress 1. Ombudsman 2. Supreme Court 3. Presidential veto
          4. Reelections

  • UP nn grad

    Does this mean that President Noynoy can fire another? Has Makalanyang found a way to have more of folks who will follow his instructions against pursuing plunder charges against “…the minority”?

    My sentiment is “no” if only because even the Senate will be fearful, remembering the damage when excessive power resides in Makalanyang. And of course, even the regular civil service workers including AFP and PNP will be fearful of being fired when incurring the displeasure of Makalanyang.

    Last line against Executive Branch arrogating power that does not belong to it —- Supreme Court.

    • Cocoy

      President is calling on Republic Act 6770, specifically, Paragraph 2, Section 8:

      “Section 8. Removal; Filling of Vacancy. —

      (1) In accordance with the provisions of Article XI of the Constitution, the Ombudsman may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.

      (2) A Deputy or the Special Prosecutor, may be removed from office by the President for any of the grounds provided for the removal of the Ombudsman, and after due process.”

    • GabbyD

      i dont get it up.

      why question the desire to fire? if anything, last year, you were one of the people who said noynoy isnt doing anything about the hostage taking.

      but NOW that they made a move to fire someone culpable, why not support it?

      • UP nn grad

        gabbyD: law of unintended consequences. I believe the office of Ombudsman was created as a counterweight to a Ferdinand marcos-wannabe in Executive Branch using “trials and investigations” to cow the noisy minority. I do not know if ManuelB is correct (law student raggster can comment) but manuelB says a person charged with plunder by the big-kahuna Ombudsman or by a deputy ombudsman goes to jail immediately — no bail. ManuelB had mentioned, once a person is charged with plunder — no bail. So once GullorrYYaa or Cimatu is charged with plunder by a deputy Ombudsman — jail, no bail.

        In other words, deputy ombudsmen who jumps to the marching order from a Makanyang resident with dictatorial tendencies or vindictiveness as motive — bad news for Pilipinas.

        Mabuti na lang, Noynoy won with 52% of the votes — the voters of Pilipinas has decided that Noynoy is not trustworthy and they delegated charge-and-jail/no-bail authority to him, so okay lang.

        • GabbyD

          was it trials and investigations?

          or was it NO trials and investigations?

        • GabbyD

          indeed, trials and investigations ARENT the problem.

          its only when the entire justice system is co-opted that is an issue.

          Police – prosecutor – judge.