With an overwhelming 211 “yes” votes over the 47 “no” votes, the House of Representatives approved the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez late last night up until the wee hours of the morning today.
The ball is now in the hands of the Senate, which will oversee the trial of the only woman ombudsman ever to be impeached by the lower house in Philippine history. The last time an impeachment was elevated to the Senate was the case of ousted president Erap Estrada. The case never reached a final verdict, as EDSA II took place after an unexpected turn of events.
Among those who voted “no” for the transmission of the articles of impeachment were, of course, the Arroyos, known to be close allies of the ombudsman. Boxing champ Manny Pacquiao, who was absent from the proceedings tweeted his vote of “no,” although it wasn’t counted.
The impeachment only needed 95 “yes” votes to approve the committee report, but it went on to be a lopsided result for the affirmative voters, who were mostly from the majority party of President Noynoy Aquino.
Once the trial proceeds in the senate, it will take two-thirds of the senate, 16 out of 24, to convict the ombudsman and remove her from office.
Do you know the feeling of getting impeached, or at least the threat of it?
In one way, I do.
Way back in high school, a joke was pulled on me as class president. While the ongoing impeachment hearing against then President Erap Estrada was at its noisiest, several of my classmates suggested my impeachment as well. The progenitor of the idea was the class escort (who is now a doctor), who, found it incumbent upon himself to “oust” me from the presidency, and him taking over. Talk about bypassing all the other positions of “government.” This was all, of course, taken in jest and good humor. Believe it or not, up to this very day, my classmates would remind me of that funny “incident”–a first, probably, in high school presidency history.
Believe me, my impeachment is nowhere near one-hundredth of the one Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is now facing.
I must say she’s taking all of this pretty much in jest as well, even using a weakly concealed allusion to the late Angelo Reyes’ apparent suicide (hindi pa naman ako magha-hara-kiri). Whatever deeper concern or anxiety Gutierrez is trying to hide behind her smiles and light mood in front of the camera, I’ll have to give it to her that she’s done good so far in keeping her real emotions hidden.
I’m supposed to ask here (and answer as well) if she’s guilty or not. And then I remembered the Bible’s exact words: judge not, that ye be not judged. So, instead of clothing myself with an imaginary garb, and meting out a verdict on the embattled ombudsman, I’ll ask this: is this impeachment complaint morally or politically motivated?
Last night, as I was watching the news, several issues were being thrown against Cong. Neil Tupas Jr., the chairman of the committee formalizing the impeachment complaint, and whose father, Gov. Tupas, has a case in the ombudsman. I cannot help but think if Cong. Tupas’ seeming “eagerness” to get the impeachment complaint done is nothing less of an act of vendetta on his part. And I cannot help as well but question what the president meant in addressing his co-party members in the house to get her impeached. Is he breathing on the necks of the LP congressmen to ultimately finish her off, even before she can start defending herself, or is he trying to show that this new administration is well on track when it comes to correcting the errors of the past administration? I would suppose the Supreme Court’s decision to junk Gutierrez’s motion for reconsideration is to prove that they are not beholden to the former president’s presence and power, and that, in effect, they have their own standards of basing their decisions, free from the political influence of any public official. Personally, I do not view the Supreme Court’s decision as an act of the justices taking side with the administration. I still believe (despite the now circulating accusations of the wounded Lauro Vizconde against the justices) that the Supreme Court, as the highest judicial body of the land, must remain its detachment from any political motivation or manipulation.
I will not say that Merceditas Gutierrez is either guilty or innocent. Let the body that will try this case be the one to pass judgment. Let the due process of law take its proper course on this. My only hope is that getting to a decision or verdict of whether she is guilty or not, would not be the result of a political vengeance being waged by any one man or one party. My hope, and I believe, every Filipino citizen’s hope, is that truth prevail.
I know one thing for sure. If Merceditas Gutierrez was indeed guilty, she’d wish the impeachment proceedings would be no more than a high school prank.