Statement of Akbayan Spokesperson Risa Hontiveros on the Decision of the Supreme Court to Continue with the Impeachment Proceedings vs. the Ombudsman

We in Akbayan welcome the decision of the Supreme Court to reject Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez’s petition to spare her from impeachment. It is a step in the right direction in paving the way for the continuation of Congress’s impeachment proceedings and sends a strong signal that all corrupt and erring public officials under the new dispensation will have their day of reckoning.

At a time when those who will benefit from the continuing deficiency of reforms and justice are apparently succeeding in blocking the people’s campaign against corruption, the decision is a welcome respite.

Certainly, dog days are over. The people’s call for accountability and justice has finally caught up with the formerly “untouchable” ombudsman.

However, the struggle to remove Gutierrez and reform the Office of the Ombudsman is far from over. The high tribunal’s decision is but a partial victory. It will only be complete and truly meaningful if Congress will take it upon itself to conclude this important task of removing her from public office, a task that is now placed on their hands.

Hence, we request the House of Representatives Committee on Justice headed by Iloilo Representative Neil Tupas to immediately resume the delayed impeachment hearings to hasten the process of exacting accountability and dispensing justice. The legal obstacles mounted by the camp of Gutierrez trimmed down the number of days required by law to complete the procedure. Swiftness coupled with judiciousness are the necessary virtues the committee must carry out in this period, if it is to complete its task and responsibility to the public.

We also call on the members of the 15th Congress to muster the political confidence to support the process of removing an obviously inept public official, cross party lines and quench the people’s thirst for reforms and justice. The ball is now in the hands of our lawmakers. They must not fail the people.

Furthermore, we call on all reform advocates to be more vigilant as ever. The horizon of positive change is getting nearer. We must not let regressive forces belonging to an old regime obfuscate it. If changes are to be made, the people must win this important battle.  

Finally, we call on Ombudsman Gutierrez to face the music and stop dodging the process laid down by our democratic institutions. Gutierrez, on numerous occasions, and even against the popular will of the public, was given more than enough time and space to exhaust all the legal remedies to protect her from prosecution. With no less than the high tribunal allowing the impeachment process to proceed, it is incumbent on Gutierrez to make herself accountable.

Now is the hour of Merci.