GMA IMPEACHMENT CASE AS GOOD AS DEAD -- PALACE

Manila, Jan. 24, 2003 - Party-list representatives who played big parts in pressure groups that pushed the impeachment of now jailed President Joseph Estrada two years ago are hesitant on whether to endorse a similar case against President Arroyo, even as they claimed that they are studying its merits as presented by complainants to Congress last Tuesday.

Militant lawmakers Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza and Crispin Beltran, however, yesterday said they are reviewing the impeachment complaint and outrightly denied reports they snubbed the papers submitted by a group led by former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Francisco Tatad and former nun Linda Montayre.

The House minority, however, may have the call on whether to endorse the impeachment case as Rep. Didagen Dilangalen, an outspoken anti-impeachment supporter of Estrada at the height of the case filed against the jailed leader, was asked by his colleagues to review the complaint that carried almost similar charges filed against Estrada in 2000.

"If we endorse the complaint, we will defend our actions even in Plaza Miranda," Dilangalen told the Tribune yesterday.

He said they will also talk to the complainants about the pieces of evidence against Mrs. Arroyo and the "applicable laws" relative to the charges.

The People's Consultative Assembly led by its Secretary General Montayre, along with lawyer Homobono Adaza, Enrile and representatives from the academe and religious groups had signed the impeachment complaint against Mrs. Arroyo for "culpable violation of the Constitution, bribery, betrayal of public trust and corruption."

Montayre, however, failed to get the required endorsement from at least one lawmaker before the impeachment complaint could be accepted by the House secretary general.

The lawmaker said they are going to make sure that should they endorse the complaint, they would be able to defend it since the burden of pursuing charges would shift from the complainants to the lawmakers.

"This is not just a question of endorsing the complaint," Dilangalen said, referring to the statement of Montayre that the endorsement of an impeachment complaint by a lawmaker is only ministerial.

Beltran, Ocampo and Maza, for their part, said they are also seriously studying the complaint.

"The allegations and accusations of corruption against President Arroyo as stated in the complaint are already well-known, but the crafting of the complaint itself appears to need more strengthening," Beltran said.

Like Dilangalen, the three militant lawmakers maintained that endorsing an impeachment complaint against a President is a serious decision.

"Endorsing an impeachment complaint against the President is a serious decision to make, and the option really must first be studied thoroughly, as well as the evidence Miss Montayre is presenting in their complaint," Beltran said.

Malacaņang, however, belittled the action, with presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye claiming the "impeachment rap is as good as dead." (Tribune)


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