First published on thepoc.net
As the drive to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez goes to the Senate, will it be the same show only with the same villain but with a new set of heroes? Is the new season worth the wait? Who ultimately receives higher ratings at the end of the protracted series?
The controversial Gutierrez will be facing a marathon hearing at the Senate as the House of Representatives led by House Justice committee chairman Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. officially transmitted the six articles of impeachment to the Senate last March 23.
The impeachment trial would likely start when Congress resumes session on May 9, or more than a month from now. Lawmakers said the trial may take six months to finish, using the impeachment trial against former president Joseph Estrada as reference.
The articles of impeachment were transmitted to the Senate following the Lower House’s historic vote for the ombudsman’s impeachment at 212-47 after almost eight hours of plenary debate towards the wee hours of March 22. The “overwhelming” vote was described by some lawmakers as a “strong message to Senate.”
A list of House lawmakers and their vote was published in a news website.
Reacting to the result of the impeachment vote, Ombudsman Gutierrez said “dark politics ruled the day,” adding that the outcome of the House hearings was “lamentable but expected.”
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte gave the credit to President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for “inspiring” the ombudsman’s impeachment, a report said. “I was surprised because the results were higher than I expected. It showed that they really wanted to see [the President] succeed because he kept saying that [Gutierrez’s impeachment] is important to his administration,” Belmonte said.
A Newsbreak report disclosed however that Belmonte allegedly “drove a hard bargain with vulnerable congressmen” based on sources from the ruling party and the opposition. The report alleged that some legislators were assured that their pending cases with the Ombudsman would be dismissed once Gutierrez is impeached.