Sen. Kiko Pangilinan: "Bitbitin na Palabas si Deputy Ombudsman Gonzalez"

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Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan on Sunday called for the enforcement of Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III's removal from office.

Gonzalez was fired by MalacaƱang on March 31, after a 15-page decision released by the Office of the President declared Gonzalez "guilty of gross neglect of duty and gross misconduct in the performance of duty" in relation to the hostage-taking at Quirino Grandstand on August 23, 2010. The decision followed the Palace's review of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC).

It also cited the "inordinate and unjustified delay" in resolving the case of hostage-taker, former police Chief Inspector Rolando Mendoza, whose removal from service was one of the reasons cited for the hostage-taking that claimed the lives of eight hostages, plus Mendoza himself. On top these, the Deputy Ombudsman has been suspected of extorting money from Mendoza at the height of the hostage-taking incident.

However, Gonzalez and his superior, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, have remained defiant, saying that the President "has no judicial or quasi-judicial jurisdiction" over Gonzalez.

Pangilinan, a lawyer and formerly a chairman of the Senate Justice Committee, pointed out, "The presumption of regularity must prevail on the issue of Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III. In this instance, unless constrained by the courts, the decision must be respected and the dismissal enforced."

Pangilinan asserted: "Kung walang legal na balakid sa pagpapatupad ng utos ng presidente, dapat ay tanggalin na 'yan sa puwesto. Kung kailangan mang bitbitin 'yan palabas ay dapat aksyonan na kaagad ng kinauukulang ahensiya ng pulis. (If there are no legal impediments to executing the President's order, then Gonzalez should be removed from office. If he needs to be bodily removed from the office premises, then that should already be acted on by the appropriate police agency.)"

Pangilinan also made reference to the Ombudsman's ties to the Arroyo administration, saying, "Unless they have forgotten that we are now under a new administration, it is time we put an end to the wanton disregard for the rule of law so characteristic of the Arroyo administration. We need to exorcise the nation from the ghosts of the past regime wherein the Constitution and the rule of law were upheld only when it served the purpose of the incumbent."

The lawmaker asserted: "Huwag na nating hintayin pang magkaroon ng isa pang hostage-taking. Tama na! Sundin niyo na ang batas!"