Deputy Speaker challenges Ombudsman’s authority over lawmakers | BusinessWorld

Dela Cruz, M. N. R. (2018, February 14). Deputy Speaker challenges Ombudsman’s authority over lawmakers. BusinessWorld. Retrieved February 14, 2018 from

Deputy Speaker challenges Ombudsman’s authority over lawmakers
February 14, 2018 | 11:44 pm

By Minde Nyl R. Dela Cruz

DEPUTY SPEAKER Gwendolyn F. Garcia on Wednesday, Feb. 14, called on other lawmakers to “stand together” against efforts “to diminish the power of this House of Representatives.”Ms. Garcia’s statement is in response a statement by Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman on Feb. 12, as reported by SunStar, expressing his opposition to a move by the House leadership to not enforce the Office of the Ombudsman’s order to dismiss Ms. Garcia.

The Office of the Ombudsman ordered on Monday Ms. Garcia’s dismissal over the controversial P98.9 million Balili property in Naga, Cebu, that the Ombudsman said she purchased as provincial governor.

In response, Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez said the House will “definitely not” implement the order.

Ms. Garcia said in a privileged speech that the enforcement of the Ombudsman’s order “would impinge upon the constitutional and statutory authority of this House of Representatives exclusively to discipline any of its members.”

Ms. Garcia cited Article XI, Section 13 of the 1987 Constitution which provides for the powers, functions, and duties of the Ombudsman.

Among other functions, the Ombudsman may recommend the removal of any public official for any “illegal, unjust, improper, or inefficient” acts.

“Nothing at all in this provision, which defines in its entirety the powers, duties and functions of the Ombudsman, is there any mention, nay, even a suggestion, that the Ombudsman has the power to discipline any member of Congress, much less, to remove such member,” Ms. Garcia pointed out.

She added that Republic Act (RA) 6770 or the Ombudsman’s Law “specifically and expressly prohibits” the Ombudsman to remove a member of the House of Representatives.

Section 21 of the Ombudsman’s Law states that the Ombudsman has authority to remove from office any public official “except over officials who may be removed only by impeachment or over Members of Congress, and the Judiciary,” Ms. Garcia said.

“The Legislature therefore, interpreting the provisions of the Constitution on the powers of the Office of the Ombudsman, expressly excluded members of Congress, along with impeachable officials and members of the Judiciary, from the Ombudsman’s disciplinary authority,” Ms. Garcia said.

The Deputy Speaker refused to discuss the merits of the case and to be interpellated after her speech.

Mr. Lagman said he “[respects] the position of Deputy Speaker Garcia not to be interpellated” but added that he will respond to Ms. Garcia on Monday, Feb. 19, as his name was “extensively mentioned” in her privileged speech.

Published in The Nation | BusinessWorld

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