CITING health reasons, Simeon Marcelo tendered today his irrevocable resignation as the country’s Ombudsman. His resignation takes effect on Nov. 30.
In a two-paragraph letter to President Arroyo, Marcelo said his seven-day workweek since he joined the government in 2001 had left him “physically and mentally exhausted.” He suffers from severe ulcers and hypertension.
Marcelo’s term was supposed to end in 2009.
A friend of Marcelo described the Ombudsman as a "pathological perfectionist" who does not know when to stop working. He said Marcelo has not been able to sleep the past months and was "burnt out."
An anti-corruption consultant said there are two important government institutions that will be leaderless and rudderless: the Ombudsman in November when Marcelo quits and the Supreme Court in December when Hilario Davide retires as chief justice.
"The president’s appointments in these two areas will tell us the shape of things to come," he said.
The country’s third and youngest Ombudsman was with the then Carpio Villaraza and Cruz law firm when he caught the public’s attention during the 2000 Senate impeachment trial of then president Joseph Estrada.
As a private prosecutor, he handled the presentation of the prosecution’s star witnesses–former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis Singson and Equitable-PCIBank executive Clarissa Ocampo.
He was appointed solicitor general in February 2001 and Ombudsman in October 2002.
As Ombudsman, Marcelo heads the panel of government lawyers prosecuting former President Estrada. He also supervises the prosecution of other major high-profile cases before the Sandiganbayan such as the President Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard case, the RSBS Pension Fund cases, the Department of Public Works and Highways Repair Scam cases and the plunder case against Maj. Gen. Carlos F. Garcia.
During his term as solicitor general, Marcelo successfully handled before the Supreme Court the recovery of the Marcos ill-gotten wealth worth $680 million.
He also successfully handled before the Supreme Court other major cases, including those involving the constitutionality of the Plunder Law and the multi-billion-peso coconut levy.
Marcelo obtained his bachelor of arts degree in ohilosophy at the Ateneo de Manila University. He graduated with honors in 1974.
He subsequently took up his bachelor of laws at the University of the Philippines and was among the top ten of the graduating class of 1979. He placed fifth (with a rating of 89.9 percent) in the 1979 bar examinations.
Before he entered the government service, he practiced law, specializing in intra-corporate disputes, bank fraud, corporate restructuring and recovery, arbitration/alternative dispute resolution and election law.
He was an active member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines where he served as the executive editor of its Journal from 1993 to 1995. He also served as chairman of the National Committee on Legal Aid (1997-1999), director for Legal Aid-Planning (1999-2000) and head of the Task Force on Child Abuse (2000).