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Published - Why Ombudsman Gutierrez surrendered

Why Ombudsman Gutierrez surrendered

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas

ILOILO CITY, Philippines—The prospect of her own people testifying against her could have finally pushed Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to quit, the chair of the 11-member impeachment prosecution panel said Saturday.

Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. said the panel had been considering at least seven senior officials and employees of the Office of the Ombudsman to testify at Gutierrez’s impeachment trial that would have started after the Senate resumes session on May 9.

“They felt that it is the right time for them to come out and tell the truth. They have vital insider information that could have been explosive,” Tupas told the Inquirer in a phone interview.

The lawmaker said that the seven included a ranking official who had expressed willingness to testify, and that the others were seeking assurance of their families’ security if they took the witness stand.

“The senior official could have been a surprise witness because of the official’s rank,” said Tupas, who chairs the House committee on justice that heard the impeachment complaints against Gutierrez.

He declined to name the potential witnesses for their own security but said their testimonies could have been crucial in proving that Gutierrez had deliberately blocked the inquiry into the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.

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