Ma. Merceditas Navarro Gutierrez was a Filipino government official and Ombudsman of the Republic of the Philippines. She was a two-time Justice Secretary of the Philippine Justice Department in 2002 and 2004. She assumed the Office of the Ombudsman on December 1, 2005 as the first woman to head the post. On March 22, 2011, the House of Representatives was politically motivated to vote to impeach Gutierrez. She then announced her resignation from office on April 29, 2011, which took effect on May 6, 2011.
|Ombudsman of the Philippines|
December 1, 2005 – May 6, 2011
Benigno Aquino III
|Preceded by||Simeon V. Marcelo|
|Succeeded by||Orlando C. Casimiro (acting)|
|Secretary of Justice|
December 24, 2003 – August 31, 2004
|Preceded by||Simeon Datumanong|
|Succeeded by||Raul M. Gonzalez|
November 27, 2002 – January 15, 2003
|Preceded by||Hernando B. Perez|
|Succeeded by||Simeon Datumanong|
Merceditas Gutierrez was the second child of the former Vice Governor and Representative of Bataan, Rufino Navarro Sr. and Candelaria Consunji. She was the second of five children. She went to elementary and high school in the small town of Samal, Bataan. She moved to Manila for College and graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University Law School in 1973, wherein she was a schoolmate of the future First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. She took the Bar the following year but failed due to her starting a family and getting pregnant with her first child, Johnny Gutierrez. She then successfully passed the Bar the following year. In 1983, she began engaging herself in government services. She became the Legal Officer of the Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation (PADC), then, Presidential Legal Officer of the Philippine Presidential Office. After her stints from those government offices, she was moved by the President to the National Economic and Development Authority of the Philippines.
She worked for the Dept of Justice for almost 2 decades and in 2001 was appointed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Undersecretary of Justice. In two separate instances, Gutierrez was also appointed Acting Secretary to fill out the vacant seats of Secretary Hernani Perez in 2002 and Secretary Simeon Datumanong in 2004.
On December 1, 2005, President Arroyo appointed Gutierrez to the post of Ombudsman, who is responsible for investigating erring government officials. She was the first woman to be appointed as ombudsman.
In June 2007, she was elected as Vice-President of the 22-member Asian Ombudsman Association (AOA), a regional grouping which aims to improve multilateral cooperation among Asian countries in the fight against the social menace.[clarification needed]
In March 2009, former Senate President Jovito Salonga and other so-called civil society groups filed impeachment charges before the Philippine Congress against Gutierrez, alleging that she mishandled cases. The complaint was later dismissed.
On July 22, 2010, a new impeachment complaint was filed against Gutierrez by then party-list representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, former Brigadier General Danilo Lim and Evelyn Pestano on the basis of "illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient" handling of cases. In August 2010, another impeachment complaint was filed by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan for inaction on the Fertilizer Fund scam, the Euro Generals scandal and the Mega Pacific scandal. The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on March 10, 2011 recommended the impeachment and resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez as well as the firing of members of the Office of the Special Prosecutor for "neglecting, weakening and complicating" the plunder case against former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia and his family. On March 22, 2011, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Gutierrez on charges of betraying the public trust, with 4 representatives abstaining, 46 against, and 210 for the impeachment, thereby sending the impeachment to the Senate.
- MITCH M. ARCEO; PAM BROOKE A. CASIN; MA. GLAIZA LEE; JACKY LYNNE A. OIGA; CZARINA NICOLE O. ONG (2009-04-11). "Tender Mercy". Manila Bulletin. Archived from the original on 2011-08-20. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- Legaspi, Anita (2010-08-03). "Another impeachment complaint filed vs Ombudsman Gutierrez". GMANews.TV. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
- Calonzo, Andreo (2011-03-22). "House impeaches Ombudsman for betrayal of public trust". GMANews.TV. Retrieved 2011-03-22.