Impeach raps vs Aquino junked

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

MANILA. The justice committee of the House of Representatives tackles the substance of the 3 impeachment cases against President Benigo Aquino III on Tuesday, September 2, 2014. (JC Cahinhinan)


MANILA (3rd Update) -- The House committee on justice dismissed Tuesday the three impeachment complaints against President Benigno Aquino III, declaring the complaints "insufficient in substance."

The committee voted 54-4 to approve the motion to terminate debate discussions for all the three impeachment complaints.

The first two complaints were filed last July amid public outrage on the President's alleged misuse of the people's money through the implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds.

During the hearing, House Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao, in his manifestation, said that the first and second impeachment complaints do not satisfy based on the Section 2 Article 11 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt practices Act.

He added that culpable violation is a "wilful act of the President" and the complaint against Aquino was "vague."

The lawmaker stressed that not every violation of the Constitution is impeachable. "It must be culpable," he said.

Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez questioned on Tuesday the second impeachment complaint filed by various militant youth groups led by 15 students and endorsed by Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon, claiming it was "prematurely filed."

"It is utterly insufficient in substance and just a piece of paper," Rodriguez said.

The third impeachment rap, which was filed by different militant groups led by former Bayan Muna party-list representative Satur Ocampo, accuses Aquino of culpable violation of the constitution and betrayal of public trust following the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) between Manila and Washington.

Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said Aquino did not violate the 1987 Constitution since the right into binding agreement is "not a necessity."

Administration allies in the House earlier predicted that the impeachment cases would lead nowhere because the process is a political exercise, which means "it is a numbers game."

After the proceedings, impeachment advocates led by Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares and other members of the so-called Makabayan bloc said the dismissal of the impeachment complaints is "a terrible day for the Filipino people."

Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon supported Colmenares statement and assailed the justice committee's "apparent double standards" in deciding on impeachment complaints.

"By nipping the impeachment proceeding at its bud, the committee on justice has once again kowtowed to the whims of the emerging dictator. Laugh while you can, Mr. Aquino, but this is not the last time you'll hear from us. The fight against the yellow dictatorship will continue in the parliament of the streets. There, I assure you, Mr. Aquino, you don't control the numbers," Ridon said.

For his part, ACT Teachers party-list Representative Antonio Tinio accused the administration lawmakers of railroading the process.

"There's no surprise but on the other hand, I'm still shocked & outraged by the railroading of the process… it took just one hearing to tackle three different complaints. I'll really say this is a railroaded process," Tinio said.

"Aquino would be no different from his predecessor Arroyo when it comes to impeachment," the lawmaker added.

Militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), meanwhile, said the justice committee showed the public that it embraces "patronage, corruption and injustice" instead of reason.

"The members of the committee are insufficient in form and substance. The railroading of the impeachment complaints' junking is not surprising but still revolting for us," KMU said.

The group also said the move was a throwback to the Arroyo days, "when the search for truth and accountability was likewise blocked by presidential allies fattened by pork barrel."

Impeachment hearings were all for show, said the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL), as the "tyranny of numbers" proves democratic institutions and processes are "mere formalities."

"The hearing actually became an organized legal escape for the culprits of illegal DAP and the controversial Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca)," added Sarah Elago, National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) president.

Despite the setback, KMU assured the hunt for Aquino's accountability will continue by bringing the issues to the poor, factories and schools and mounting more anti-government protests.

"We still hold out the prospect of Aquino being forced to resign or being ousted," it said.

Marikina Representative Romero Quimbo dismissed the allegations of Tinio since the House majority could have dismissed the impeachment move as early as last week when the House panel is still discussing the complaints' sufficiency in form.

"We all unanimously debated even if there were points that could've been validly raised against the sloppiness of the complaints," Quimbo said.

Iloilo City Representative Jerry Trenas said the dismissal of the impeachment case against President Aquino was inevitable not due to his strong alliance with the members of Congress but primarily because all the three impeachment complaints are premature and furthermore insufficient in substance.

Trenas said there is no basis for Congress to even proceed in discussing the merits of the impeachment complaint as for one, the Supreme Court ruling on the DAP, which was used as the primary basis of the complaint, is still under review following the filing of a motion for reconsideration by government lawyers.

This is the same case with the Edca, which is a binding security agreement between the Philippines and the United States.

"All three complaints are premature since at the time of filing, no final and executory decision of the Supreme Court on the DAP and the Edca. Also, there is no culpable violation of the Constitution since there was no conscious and deliberate intention to violate the constitution," Trenas said.

Based on the impeachment rules, the requirement of substance is met if there is a recital of facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the committee.

The committee is mandated to submit a report telling stakeholders that they had dismissed the complaint if the committee finds that the complaint is not sufficient in substance. (Sunnex)

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