The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), joined militant peasant and fisherfolk organizations in filing criminal charges against resigned Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez at the Department of Justice today.
In the complaint affidavit they presented to DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima, Anakpawis Partylist Representative Rafael V. Mariano, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), AMIHAN, Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Kalipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK), Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), Dangayan Dagiti Manalon Ti Cagayan Valley (Dangayan) and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) accused resigned Ombudsman Gutierrez of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act tantamount to obstruction of justice and perjury in connection with the graft complaint filed by the said organizations against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo et.al. on the issue of the fertilizer scam.
The peasant organizations have filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo et.al. regarding the malversation of P728M pesos fertilizer and farm input fund allotted for the Ginintuang Masagang Ani Program as early as 03 June 2004. In response to the said complaint, Task Force Abono was formed by the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the said scam. However, despite the numerous findings and consistent recommendations of the said task force to file criminal and administrative charges against those involved in the said scam, Ombudsman Gutierrez failed to act on the said recommendations. It was only before Ombudsman Gutierrez resigned last 29 April 2011 that she recommended the filing of charges against those who were responsible for the malversation of the said fund but which has been criticized as deliberately ill-prepared and designed to fail.
The said criminal complaint is the first to be filed against Gutierrez.
Atty. Edre U. Olalia, Secretary-General of the NUPL, said that “The filing of this criminal complaint is part of the organized effort of the NUPL for accountability and good governance aside from the prosecution of human rights violations to abate impunity. Just because Ombudsman Gutierrez resigned does not mean she is less accountable or responsible for her actions. As a matter of principle, NUPL is determined that she has to face the music.”
The NUPL was one of the complainants in the impeachment proceedings against Gutierrez and represented them in the hearings before the Supreme Court which resulted in a favorable decision on this matter. NUPL lawyers likewise served as researchers and would-be private prosecutors in the aborted impeachment trial.
“We would also like to emphasize that former Ombudsman Gutierrez did not only sit on cases involving massive graft and corruption filed before her office. Her inaction even covered cases filed against government officials and state agents involved in human rights violations,” Atty. Olalia added citing the case of Raymond Manalo, the witness to the abduction of UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno which has remained pending before the Office of the Ombudsman. After filing a damages suit against GMA et. al. for the violation of the rights of the Morong 43 last month, the NUPL just filed a criminal complaint for the disappearance of Cadapan and Empeno against Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. et. al. last week in representation of the victims and their kin.