Plunder case ‘won’t affect Ombud’s impeachment’

* MANILA — The order of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to file plunder charges against Agriculture officials involved in the P728-million Fertilizer Fund Scam will have no effect on her impeachment case, lawmakers said.

Gutierrez on Friday ordered the filing of plunder charges against former Agriculture secretary Luis Lorenzo, former undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante, and former assistant secretary Ibarra Poliquit and others “in conspiracy with one another.”

Marikina Representative Miro Quimbo said the filing of the charges was an “afterthought” and will not weaken the articles of impeachment filed in the Senate.

“How can it? The offense is precisely for failure to file within a reasonable time from the commission of the offense,” said Quimbo, who is a member of the prosecution panel of the House of Representatives. (more)

Palace: No tolerance for wrongdoing of Aquino allies

MALACANANG assured Wednesday that it will not tolerate wrongdoing if ever several allies of President Benigno Aquino III will be proven guilty of benefitting from the allegedly misused fertilizer funds.

“It is not the policy of the Aquino administration to do that. We won’t tolerate [that],” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

She refused to make further comments on the alleged involvement of Aquino’s allies in the fertilizer fund scam, saying it would be better to leave the issue to the Ombudsman.

“The Ombudsman should explain their reason for the filing of the cases against these people,” she said.

The Office of the Ombudsman identified former Bukidnon Representative Nereus Acosta Jr., Albay Provincial Governor Jose “Joey” Salceda and Palawan Governor Abraham Kahlil Mitra as three officials who supposedly obtained funding from the government’s Farm Inputs/Farm Implements Program (FIFIF). (more)

Ombudsman resigns from post

MANILA — Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez confirmed she tendered her resignation to President Benigno Aquino III Friday morning, 10 days before the Senate trial on impeachment case filed against her.

Gutierrez, in a press conference Friday afternoon, said she personally went to Aquino at 10:30 a.m. to hand over her one-page letter, which the President accepted.

The Ombudsman’s resignation, which she decided two weeks ago, will take effect on May 6.

She said she thanked the President for “graciously accommodating” her and the kind words he said to her.

Gutierrez said that she had wanted to defend herself at the Senate and she recognized that the Philippines needs “a full-time Ombudsman and a full-time Congress.” (more)