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Ombudsman off ‘daang matuwid’?

01:50 AM June 06, 2015

The erratic behavior of the Office of the Ombudsman was highlighted by the May 29 Inquirer editorial (“Double standards”) which pointed out its alacrity in citing the much-maligned “condonation doctrine” (extinction of administrative liability by virtue of reelection) to justify its dismissal of the case against a former mayor of Muntinlupa, while vigorously urging the Supreme Court to junk the very same doctrine in the case of Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay and other City Hall officials!

As the Inquirer noted, the Ombudsman’s office has a lot of explaining to do in the Supreme Court for such duplicity. Indeed, where it could have so simply disposed of that Muntinlupa case as “moot and academic” (the most severe administrative penalty of dismissal being no longer relevant as the public official involved had already served out his term), its needlessly idiotic recourse to that doctrine was truly baffling. Given the Ombudsman’s very vocal and passionate advocacy for the outright obliteration of that ridiculous doctrine from jurisprudence in the Binay case, our first reaction was: Nalusutan ba siya ng mga tauhan niya?

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That led many to suspect that the Office of the Ombudsman might have been closeting rent-seeking officials who are in reality cheering for the Binays in anticipation of that dynasty’s ascendancy to Malacañang in 2016 and of more lucrative sinecures for themselves. Be it remembered that during the time of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, there was widespread suspicion that her gofers in that agency were intentionally messing up the evidence against some accused perceived to be close to the Arroyo regime. In fact, their cases were being archived (ripened for eventual dismissal through prescription or violation of their right to “speedy trial”) or clandestinely settled by way of compromise agreements that left the government with a mere pittance from the looted funds.

We seem to be seeing sinister hands at work again in the office of the current Ombudsman. How else can anyone explain the sudden in-your-face about-face which has now irreparably undermined that office’s credibility and its posturing against an insidious doctrine that has become the favorite refuge of scalawags? No matter how one looks at it, that was a sellout! With this unexpected development, where now lies the hope for “daang matuwid”? Wala na ba talagang matitino sa bayan natin?

—DINO M. CAPISTRANO, [email protected]

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TAGS: condonation doctrine, Junjun Binay, merceditas gutierrez, ombudsman
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