Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Impeachment of the Ombudsman---Public Interest, Not Party Politics

Attributing the impeachment case against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to the Liberal Party and former Congressman Nereus Acosta and making it appear as a partisan act is obviously an attempt to muddle the issue by politicizing the whole affair, which is actually a matter of the Ombudsman’s public accountability.

Portraying the Liberal Party as being behind the impeachment raps with only political motives to fuel it is an insult to the distinguished members of civil society who have initiated the filing of the complaint. With the exception of former Senate President Jovito Salonga who acted as head of Kilosbayan and Bantay Katarungan, those who filed the complaint do not belong to the LP and they acted on their civic duty and conscience to hold the Ombudsman accountable for what they see as failures of the one tasked to go after corrupt government officials.

While members of the Liberal Party have spoken out in support of the complaint, it s not because of partisan interest but in pursuit of the public interest in the cases that were mentioned in the complaint. It may be in line with the party’s principles of transparency, accountability and oversight, but definitely it is not for political gain.

In fact, those who speak in favor of the impeachment complaint may even be subject severe backlash and retaliation such as the case of former Congressman Nereus Acosta whose case was suddenly brought forth to the public attention after leaders of the LP put the Ombudsman to task for not acting swiftly on celebrated cases which involved allies of the administration.

The Liberal Party members, particularly those in the House of Representatives, are still in the process of individual assessment of the complaint, since they will cast their vote as individuals in the impeachment process.

It is consistency with party principles, not partisan persuasions, which compel LP members to speak out and seek answers to the charges filed against the Ombudsman. It is public interest, not political favor, which the party looks after in its position not only on this case, but in all issues it confronts.

In the face of attempts to confuse the people in this issue, what the public should understand and focus on is that this affair is not a political swordfight and partisan maneuvering but instead, it is about the people exacting accountability from an official who was tasked by the Constitution to go after violators of the law.  

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