Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Inept Ombudsman

I’m not sure if Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago was right in calling for the resignations of the Secretaries of Public Works and Highways and Finance, as I haven’t been able to follow the issue of the World Bank blacklisting of three construction companies, but I agree wholeheartedly with her call for the resignation of the Ombudsman, Merceditas Gutierrez.

Ever since she assumed the office four years ago, Gutierrez has failed to live up to the ideals of her office, whose mandate is to go after corrupt government officials. In one of the more celebrated cases against the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in 2006, where the Supreme Court ruled against the Comelec in the Mega-Pacific deal, and ordered the Ombudsman to investigate the officials involved, the Ombudsman then ruled that no one was liable for the case, effectively overruling the Supreme Court.

The Ombudsman has also failed to charge anybody involved in the ZTE Broadband scandal, and has even junked a case against Undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante, who is suspected of being involved in the fertilizer scam which is said to have benefitted President Arroyo’s 2004 presidential bid.

With Gutierrez being an ally of the current administration, I’m not too surprised by her inability to ferret out corrupt officials. How can Gutierrez effectively investigate the one who put her in the office to begin with? The answer: only if she has the highest levels of moral value, which, by her inactions, she doesn’t have.

It’s unlikely that Gutierrez will heed Sen. Santiago’s call to resign, though. And it’s equally unlikely that President Arroyo will ask her to step down, not while Gutierrez is essential in protecting GMA and her cronies’ backsides. And thus, corruption in the Philippines will continue unabated, as those who are sworn to obliterate it are themselves corrupt.

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