4 rural groups call for Ombudsman Gutierrez’s ouster

Calling themselves perpetual victims of the Office of Ombudsman’s injustice, leaders of the four of the biggest rural-based groups on Saturday called for the ouster of beleaguered Ombudsman Atty. Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez.

“Ombudsman Gutierrez is the Ombudsman of the corrupt and the evil managers of Malacañang. She deserves to be ousted and condemned by the people and her name will be forever etched in Philippine history as coddler of big time syndicate manning the office of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” the fisherfolk alliance Pamalakaya, the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and the peasant women federation Amihan said in a joint press statement.

The four groups recalled that they filed a number of cases before the Office of the Ombudsman like plunder and graft and corruption against President Arroyo and a number of government officials and criminal charges against top military officials implicated in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances including those involved in Hacienda Luisita massacre in 2006.

“Please allow us to remind Ombudsman Gutierrez that sometime in June 2004, we asked her office to investigate the possible involvement of President Arroyo, former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante and former agriculture secretary Luisito Lorenzo on the P 728 million fertilizer scam,” the groups said.

The groups added: “By June 2009, the fertilizer fund scam will celebrate its 5th year anniversary, and it seems Ombudsman Gutierrez is extending it for another five years or more. It is like extending the anti-farmer and pro-landlord Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or CARP for another five years. This mind-boggling escapade of the Ombudsman is a classic case of bureaucratic coddling and corruption rolled into one.”

The militant rural groups said, another case they filed was a plunder compliant against President Arroyo and business tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco in connection with the P 130-billion coconut levy case. They said the complaint was filed sometime November 2005.

“The Office of the Ombudsman has become a synonym for corruption, collusion and outright suppression of truth and denial of justice, and it seems that is the orientation of Ombudsman Gutierrez when she was transferred by her Palace backers to the Office of the Ombudsman,” they said.

For his part, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap further accused Gutierrez of sitting on the anti-graft case filed his group filed against President Arroyo, former environment secretary Michael Defensor, other government officials from the Department of Energy and DENR and private entities in connection with the offshore mining in Central Visayas, the oil spill in Rapu-Rapu, Albay and the massive and questionable issuance of environmental clearances by Defensor in February 2006.

The Pamalakaya leader recalled that the case was filed on February 13, 2005. In their 20-page complaint submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman, Pamalakaya leaders from Cebu, Bohol, Negros, Masbate, Sorsogon and Albay filed the case against Arroyo et al.

Pamalakaya in their 2005 complaint filed before the Ombudsman’s office asserted that President Arroyo and other key government officials made violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or RA 3019, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards or RA 6713 and other pertinent environmental laws in allowing Lafayette to conduct operations in Rapu-Rapu, Albay, in allowing oil and gas explorations in Tañon Strait (a protected seascape between Cebu and Negros islands) and Cebu Strait (Cebu) separating Cebu and Bohol and for distributing 4,968 environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) in 2004..

The complainants are led by Pamalakaya chapters–Pamana-Sugbo headed by its chairperson Victor Lapaz, Pamalakaya-Negros led by its secretary general Editho Namion, Bokkana-Bohol spokesperson Paulita Distor, Lambat-Masbate chair Darwin Abila and Lambat-Bicol secretary general Arieto Radores, representing the victims of Lafayette two mining spills in 2005..

Militant lawmakers Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano and the late Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran of Anakpawis party list and Liza Maza of Gabriela Women’s Party also signed as co-complainants of Pamalakaya and its chapters.

Aside from Ms Arroyo and ex-DENR Secretary Defensor, those who were included in the charge sheet were Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, former energy secretary Vince Perez, former Lafayette country manager Rod Watt and officials of the DENR and DOE in Regions V and Region VII. #

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