Private Lawyers to Help House Prosecute in Ombudsman’s Senate Trial – Farinas

LAOAG CITY, March 30 – Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said the House justice committee may engage the services of private lawyers to help congressmen prosecute Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez in the Senate.

Fariñas, committee vice chair, said congressmen prosecutors are in for a long, drawn-out trial that will begin on May 9 when the Senate convenes as an impeachment court.

“This is a full-time job. You run everything from logistics to finance. This is not a kid’s job. You are prosecuting the government’s chief prosecutor who has at her back and call the whole ombudsman,” he said.

The House of Representatives voted to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on March 22 for betrayal of public trust.

Gutierrez was charged with betrayal of public trust for failing to act on, among other things, the fertilizer fund scam, the Euro generals scandal, the Mega Pacific deal, the NBN-ZTE deal and the Ensign Philip Pestaño case.

She was also charged of betraying public trust by her dismal performance, as shown, among others, by her low conviction record.

Fariñas said the committee has initially created a team of eight prosecutors led by committee chair Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupaz, Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada and himself.

He said he was looking at getting private prosecutors to solidify the panel that would prove the articles of impeachment before the Senate.

To secure a conviction in the impeachment trial, a vote of two-thirds of all the members of the Senate, or 16 of 24 senators, is required.

Gutierrez faces removal from office and disqualification from holding any public office if found guilty. (ANL/CCA- PIA 1 Ilocos Norte)