Republic of the Philippines
OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN
Agham Road, Diliman, Quezon City
STATEMENT OF OMBUDSMAN MERCEDITAS N. GUTIERREZ
April 29, 2011
This morning at 10:30 a.m. I personally went to Malacanang to meet with our President, His Excellency Benigno Aquino III, to tender my resignation. I thank the President for graciously accommodating me on very short notice, and for all the kind words he said to me. In almost four decades of devoting my life to government service, I have always been guided by the precepts that the public and moral responsibilities of public officials transcend all other considerations. It is in accordance with these principles that I have strived and persevered to build and maintain an
unblemished record in public service. For me, this is the greatest and lasting legacy that I can leave my family, my children and my children’s children. Since September of last year, I have been subjected to impeachment proceedings, which seek my removal as the Ombudsman. I have been charged with allegedly betraying the public trust which was vested in me when I assumed office in December of 2005 – this because I allegedly slept and failed to act promptly on cases of national concern.
Because of my strong belief in the falsity of the charges leveled against me, I was firm and resolute that I shall participate in the impeachment trial before the Senate and prove to the Filipino people that the allegations against me are untrue, as they are groundless. I felt that I owed it to the people and the Office of the Ombudsman to vindicate and protect the integrity and independence of the institution. I also believed that in the Senate, I shall receive a verdict that would come only after the presentation of credible witnesses and evidence, unswayed by any kind of pressure, whether open or subtle, in proceedings that are devoid of histrionics that might detract from its basic aim to ferret out the truth and decreed by the cold neutrality of Senator-jurors.
In the past weeks, it has become evident to me that the vilification thrown at me by my detractors will go on as it has, since September of last year. I have withstood all these with the hope that I can assuage myself with the balm of a clear conscience and a verdict of not guilty by the Senate.
I wanted to face my accusers whatever the personal agony it would have involved.
But the interests of my family, my Office, and more importantly the nation, must always come before any personal considerations.
I have not shirked in the face of pressure, have never been cowed into submission, have never been influenced other than by truth and justice. To leave before the end of my term in December 2012 is abhorrent to me. But as a
government official, I must place first and foremost the interests of the Nation, the interest of my Office, and as a mother and wife, my family. The problems besetting our country demand a full-time Ombudsman and a full time
Congress, both Senate and the House of Representatives. To fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would, as it is, almost absorb my time, and attention.
The impeachment proceedings have consumed not only the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, but the Chief Executive of the land as well.
At a time when the present administration is in its infancy and beset with more urgent problems, the last thing that the nation needs is for the House and the Senate to be embroiled in a long drawn-out impeachment proceeding against a single public official. The President needs an Ombudsman in whom he has complete trust and confidence. To carry on my battle to cleanse my name before the Senate would detract from the time which could otherwise be devoted to legislative work, which would address the needs of millions of Filipino people.
By tendering my resignation effective May 6, 2011, I hope we can now all focus on the impelling problems of our people rather than expending so much time, effort and resources to remove me from public office.
I will also be turning over immediately the day to day affairs to the Overall Deputy Ombudsman, and pray that we all give him our full support.
As I leave the Office of the Ombudsman, however, it is my fervent hope that the misconception bred that having been appointed to public office by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, I owed my allegiance to her and am accountable only to her, and not to the Filipino people and the Constitution be discarded and laid to rest. While I acknowledge with deep gratitude the opportunity given me by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, my undivided loyalty always was, is, and will forever remain, to the Constitution and the Filipino people. In the words of the late Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court, judicial officers like me have no constituency,
serve no majority or minority but serve only the public interest as they see it in accordance with their oath of office, guided only by the Constitution and, their conscience and honor.
To those who have stood with during these difficult months, to my family, my friends, to many others who joined in supporting my cause because they believed I was innocent, I will be eternally grateful.
And to my detractors, I bear them no rancor because I have learned to make myself believe that we all love our country and our people no matter how our judgments might differ.
I shall leave this Office with regret at not completing my term, but with gratitude for the privilege of serving as Ombudsman for the past five years. I thank my colleagues at the Office of the Ombudsman whose continuous and selfless but unpublished efforts have made the Office of the Ombudsman what it is today.
Not many know that for many years, the Office of the Ombudsman has consistently been voted the most trusted institution in the Philippines. That is all your stellar achievement. I stand proud of having worked with you through these years. And while our detractors will always find cause to criticize and charge delay in what we do, it is because we deem it better to accord due process to our own public officials whose lives we affect when we decide on their cases.
God bless the Philippines and our people.
Photo credit: Malacanang Photo Bureau