Impeachment and proof

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Monday, July 21, 2014


I LIKE Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello’s quip on the impeachment complaint filed against President Noynoy Aquino by groups composed mostly of militants. The complaint is based on the Supreme Court decision that declared the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional.

But to Bello, other basis can be used. “Some people will find any excuse to try to impeach the President,” he said. Aquino’s love life—or lack of it—can be considered by critics as a ground for impeachment, Bello noted. Or what about PNoy’s receding hairline, a commenter in the inquirer.net website added.

I won’t dwell on the use of the DAP issue as basis for impeachment. I would go for constitutionalist Joaquin Bernas’s take on that.

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“It doesn't seem to me a culpable violation of the constitution. Because culpable violation means to be an intentional violation of the constitution. Negligence, but that's not a ground for impeachment,” he said in a July 3, 2014 inquirer.net report.

That’s aside from the political angle. Like Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo before him when impeachment complaints were filed against her, Aquino has overwhelming control of Congress. That means the complaint won’t fly. More so because most legislators had projects that were DAP-funded.

Incidentally, one of the lawmakers who endorsed the impeachment complaint is Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares. Earlier reports had said Colmenares received P25 million in two installments from the DAP over the past two years. Militant party-list groups also benefited from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which the SC also shot down.

To be fair, Colmenares claimed he had no knowledge about it.

“I nominated projects for hospitals, health kits, farm-to-market roads and school buildings to the DBM (Department of Budget and Management), which approved it and directly funded these projects under an item called ‘continuing appropriations,’ not DAP,” he told reporters. “It really came as a surprise to me when the DBM said it came from the DAP.”

Still, Colmenares insisted that he and his group did not lose their credibility in criticizing the DAP. The same apparently goes for their belated criticism of the PDAF.

To recall, of the many lawmakers in the country (some of them claiming to be progressive) only Sen. Panfilo Lacson saw what the PDAF really was and refused to use it.

My stand on the DAP has remained the same even with the filing of the impeachment complaint against PNoy. The declaration of the DAP as unconstitutional isn’t enough reason to condemn it. I am waiting first for proof that the DAP went into the pockets of politicians or government officials like in the case of the PDAF.

Which brings me to another interesting point about some anti-pork barrel groups, which have been selective in their denunciation of the practice.

They are quick to pounce on any signs that people in the administration benefited from the pork barrel or the PDAF. Yet they are not as vociferous in the case of those who are already facing plunder cases like Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla.

I say it is wrong to equate the P10-billion PDAF scam involving Janet Lim-Napoles and the said senators with the DAP. The PDAF scam can be considered as the mother of all scams (excluding the ones committed under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos). To say that the DAP is equal to or worse than the PDAF scam is to be dishonest.

I need to stress this as some sectors are peddling this twisted logic in the PDAF-DAP discussion. It has gotten to the point that Jinggoy, who is accused of pocketing millions of pesos of his PDAF allocation, is labeled a “hero” for supposedly exposing the DAP. Pastilan.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 22, 2014.

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