PROTESTS MOUNTS VS AQUINO; HOUSE ACCEPTS 1st IMPEACH

JULY 22 --The House of Representatives on Monday accepted the first impeachment complaint filed by 28 activists led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) against President Aquino for culpable violation of the Constitution in the implementation of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and betrayal of public trust. “The facts will show that the buck stops with President Aquino. He is responsible and accountable for DAP and must be impeached,” the complainants said, referring to the purported economic stimulus package that the Supreme Court ruled on July 1 as unconstitutional. The complainants charged that the DAP served “as the President’s pork barrel which he also used to bribe, give rewards or grant favors to politicians and allies and became the kitty of corruption for those in power.”  * READ MORE...

ALSO: How Aquino impeachment petitioners plan to offset numbers game in Congress

JULY 22 --The numbers game may not favor the complainants in the impeachment rap against President Benigno Aquino III within the halls of the House of Representatives, so they are keen on trying their luck in various communities. Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes on Monday said the battle for the complaint to prosper is in the communities and not in the lower Congress, long dominated by presidential allies. “Ang aming plano, iikot kami sa iba-ibang komunidad, kakausapin ang mga mamamayan (Our plan is to go around the communities and talk to the people),” Reyes, one of the petitioners, said. “Ang tagumpay ng impeachment ay hindi sa bilang ng mga kongresista. Nakasalalay ito sa taumbayan (The victory of the impeachment is not in the numbers of the congressmen. It is in the people),” he added. Members of the majority bloc, led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, have long said the complaint will not prosper in the chamber. Reyes thus urged congressmen to veer away from the influence of Malacañang and consider the impeachment complaint. “Ang hamon sa mambabatas: Pagkakataon na para ituwid ang nagawang pang-aagaw ng kapangyarihan. Huwag naman sila laging paggamit sa Malacañang (Our challenge to lawmakers is: It is time to correct the President’s usurping of power. Congress should not always be Malacañang’s lapdog),” he added.

More impeachment complaints will be filed by groups to be endorsed by other militant representatives, such as Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon and ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio. According to the complaint, Aquino should be impeached for “violating the Constitution by usurping Congress’ power of the purse, betraying the public trust by exacerbating the corrupt pork barrel system, committing tyrannical abuse of his powers, violating his oath of office and perpetrating multiple counts of technical malversation and corruption of public officials.” They said Aquino should be impeached for his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), a savings-impounding mechanism, parts of which were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Funds from DAP were also said to be given as incentives to senators who voted to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona. The complaint was endorsed by Bayan Muna representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate, and Anakpawis Representative Fernando Hicap. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Why filing an impeachment case vs Aquino is waste of time 

JULY 22 --Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. remains confident the impeachment moves against President Benigno Aquino III would not prosper under the House of Representatives that is packed with presidential allies. “(I am) not worried about possible impeachment,” Belmonte said in a text message after the Supreme Court ruled that the disbursement of the president’s purported “pork barrel” funds under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is illegal. He added that any impeachment move would not garner enough votes to prosper. “(SC acted in) good faith and sincere intentions,” Belmonte added. Belmonte made the statement after a militant youth group warned that it would file an impeachment complaint against the President. “The SC’s decision is a signal for us to push through with the filing of formal complaints against Aquino and (Budget Secretary Florencio) Abad over DAP,” YOUTH ACT NOW National Convenor Victor Villanueva said in a statement. “YOUTH ACT NOW will join Kabataan partylist in filing impeachment raps and malversation charges against Aquino and Abad, respectively,” he added.

Meanwhile, militant Bayan Muna lawmakers called a “partial victory” over the SC’s ruling to declare DAP illegal. “We have condemned President Benigno Aquino’s use of the DAP and DBM Circular 451 during the 2012 budget deliberation because it transforms items in the budget into pork by impounding or withdrawing the funds and realigning these to the projects of selected allies, including senators and congressmen, and LGU officials,” said Rep. Neri Colmenares, who is also one of the petitioners against DAP. “This leads to corruption and patronage politics and has drained billions of pesos from public funds to highly questionable projects. President Aquino and Sec. Abad must be held accountable for culpable violations of the Constitution,” the senior deputy minority leader added. DAP funds have been criticized after Senator Jinggoy Estrada exposed that the presidential pork barrel funds were given allegedly as incentives to senators who voted to oust convicted Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Plunder complaint filed vs Binay 

A plunder complaint has been filed against Vice President Jejomar Binay, his son, Makati mayor Erwin Jejomar Binay Jr., and 21 others before the Office of the Ombudsman. According to the nine-page complaint filed by the Save Makati Movement (SMM) headed by Renato L. Bondal and Ching Enciso, the Binays and several Makati officials were allegedly behind the construction of an “overpriced” parking building. SMM said the city government spent a total of P1.5 billion for the construction of the New Makati City Parking Building along F. Zobel Street in Barangay Poblacion from 2007 to 2013. Included as respondents were former and incumbent councilors Ferdinand T. Eusebio; Arnold Magpantay; Romeo Medina; Tosca Puno Ramos; Maria Alethea Casal-Uy; Ma. Concepcion Yabut; Virgilio Hilario; Monsour del Rosario; Vince Sese; Nelson Pasia; Salvador Pangilinan; Elias Tolentino; Ruth Tolentino; Henry Jacome; Leo Magpantay; Nemesio “King” Yabut; Armand Padilla; Israel Cruzado; Ma. Theresa De Lara; Angelito Gatchalian and Ernesto Aspillaga. Cecille Cag-anan of the Commission on Audit (COA) was also listed as one of the respondents for her alleged failure to safeguard public funds allowing the other accused to commit alleged criminal acts. The construction of the building, the complaint said, was funded through the first appropriation ordinance approved by the Vice President when he was still a mayor. Initial appropriation was P400 million. When the younger Binay took over in 2010, he and the city councilors allegedly continued to approve six more appropriation ordinances for the continued construction of the building with additional appropriation of P1.1 billion.

ALSO: Youth vs PNoy file 2nd impeachment  

YOUTH organizations, student leaders and campus journalists filed a second verified impeachment complaint against President Benigno Aquino III Tuesday over his Disbursement Acceleration Program, parts of which were struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon endorsed the complaint filed at the office of the House secretary general by the 25 youth and student complainants led by anti-pork barrel youth alliance Youth Act Now, accusing the President of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and graft and corruption. “Since Aquino has shown a clear lack of delicadeza (sense of propriety), wisdom and humility to resign from office over his culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and graft and corruption, the concerned citizens led by youth and student organizations come to Congress today to avail themselves of the constitutional process of impeachment to hold him accountable,” the complainants said in the preface of the complaint. Ridon appealed to the House leadership to look at the merits of the complaints and vote on it based on their conscience. “Aquino shouldn’t try to bribe the House and the Senate again. He should respect the constitutional process. If he can’t stand the heat of the impeachment, and if he has any sliver of delicadeza left, he should know what to do,” Ridon said. * READ MORE...

ALSO Manila Standard commentary: Why impeach? 

The unspoken question framed by sympathizers of Malacañang seems to be: “If President Noynoy Aquino cannot be impeached, why go through the trouble at all?” But the question presumes not only that it is impossible to impeach Aquino. It also assumes that no good will come out of filing and supporting impeachment complaints, which certainly does not follow, even if you grant that no impeachment will succeed. The chief spokesman of President Noynoy Aquino, Herminio Coloma, has offered this confident assessment of the chances of any impeachment complaint against his boss prospering in the palace-controlled House of Representatives: “It is undeniable that numbers are important here, because at the end, congressmen will vote if they will approve the complaint or not.”  Coloma’s confidence is not without basis. This is the House, after all, that Aquino himself implied was squarely behind him if the Supreme Court really wanted some mano a mano with Malacañang after the tribunal declared Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program illegal.

And it is the same House that, soon after the court issued its DAP ruling, suddenly revived its call to take away the Judiciary Development Fund from the high court’s supervision and give it to the national treasury. It really looks as if Congress, as they say, has Noynoy’s back. If that’s the case, then it would certainly appear that the complaints filed in the House to oust Aquino are doomed from the start. But perhaps Malacañang should temper its swagger with some history—specifically, how Joseph Estrada was impeached 14 years ago and how he was forced to step down at the height of the trial of the impeachment case against him in the Senate. The administration assumes that neither of the two valid impeachment complaints filed against Aquino in the Batasan this week will get anywhere because the endorsers, who belong to the so-called “progressive” left-leaning bloc, will not be able to gather the required signatures from other, presumably pro-Aquino legislators. But what they aren’t telling people is that the House doesn’t even need a simple majority to indict Aquino and start the process for his trial in the Senate. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Protests mount vs Aquino; House accepts 1st impeach complaint vs President 


FROM LEFT TO RIGHT Antipork barrel advocates file an impeachment complaint against President Aquino in the House of Representatives. Among the 28 petitioners are Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr., retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, former Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza, Volunteers against Crime and Corruption president Dante Jimenez and Scrap Pork Network leader Mae Paner. Also in photo are Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate. LYN RILLON

MANILA, JULY 28, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Gil C. Cabacungan - The House of Representatives on Monday accepted the first impeachment complaint filed by 28 activists led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) against President Aquino for culpable violation of the Constitution in the implementation of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and betrayal of public trust.

“The facts will show that the buck stops with President Aquino. He is responsible and accountable for DAP and must be impeached,” the complainants said, referring to the purported economic stimulus package that the Supreme Court ruled on July 1 as unconstitutional.

The complainants charged that the DAP served “as the President’s pork barrel which he also used to bribe, give rewards or grant favors to politicians and allies and became the kitty of corruption for those in power.”

* The complaint cited two grounds: Culpable violation of the Constitution when the President usurped the power of Congress in declaring idle funds as “savings,” made cross-border fund transfers, spent public funds for projects, activities and programs not found or funded in the budget; and betrayal of public trust when he created his own pork barrel worth P144 billion, showered these funds on his pet projects and favored politicians, and partly to influence the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Distance from complaint

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda sought to distance Malacañang from the impeachment move. He declined to say whether the Palace was confident that the move would eventually be defeated in the House, which is controlled by the President and even with the supposed absence of pork barrel he could give away in return.

“We will let the House of Representatives determine in its own rules the allegations of the complaint,” Lacierda said.

Deception

The complainants accused the President and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad of deception when they made it appear that the senators and representatives were asking for additional funds when it was the executive who was dangling these extra money in the form of the DAP.

“The lawmakers were allowed to determine how the amounts would be used, hence they were asked to ‘nominate’ projects based on the funds made available by Malacañang. It was a scheme ever similar to the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) system where lawmakers are given lump-sum funding for priority projects of their choice,” the complainants said.

In November 2013, the high court likewise declared the PDAF unconstitutional in the wake of widespread public outrage that billions of pesos in the congressional pork barrel went to ghost projects and kickbacks.

The President has yet to “substantiate” his claims that the DAP had been effective as an economic stimulus program, the impeachment proponents said.

Damning evidence

The complainants cited “damning evidence of patent and unadulterated bad faith” on the part of the President in implementing the DAP.

They noted that as a senator, Aquino introduced a bill that “labeled the same actions under the watch of his economic teacher, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as misused and abused and has emasculated Congress’ authority to check the President’s discretionary powers.”

They also scored the President for his recent televised speech attacking the Supreme Court which they described as “not only unpresidential, disrespectful to and defiant against a coequal branch of government but betrays tyrannical abuse of power by the President.”

3 solons back move

The House secretary general accepted the 80-page impeachment complaint after it was endorsed by Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna and Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis.

Two impeachment complaints were earlier filed by lawyer Oliver Lozano and former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority chief Augusto Syjuco Jr. but the House did not act on these for lack of any endorsement from a member.

Another impeachment complaint by the Kabatan party-list group and school organizations was expected to be filed today.

Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo said that the impeachment case was meant to provide the public with a proper forum to make the President explain his creation.

“We know we don’t have the numbers but we believe that public opinion against pork barrel and DAP would force House members to vote according to their conscience and not on their loyalty,” Ocampo said.

Antipork signatories

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has 13 session days to forward the complaint to the House committee on rules, which then will refer it to the committee on justice.

The complaint was filed three weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that the DAP was unconstitutional and a week before the President’s annual State of the Nation Address.

The signatories include:
Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes Jr.;
Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees president Ferdinand Gaite;
Volunteers against Crime and Corruption president Dante Jimenez;
Citizens Crime Watch president Jose Malvar Villegas Jr.;
former Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz;
Bishop Emergencio D. Padillo of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines;
Bishop Joselito T. Cruz of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente;
Fr. Benjamin Alforque of the Church People’s Alliance against Pork Barrel;

Former Gabriela Rep. Liza L. Maza;
UP professor Judy M. Taguiwalo;
musician Monet Silvestre;
Marie Sol S. Villalon of the Promotion for Church People’s Response;
Whistle-blowers Association president Sandra Cam;
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas chair Rafael V. Mariano;
Kilusang Mayo Uno chair Elmer C. Labog;
Migrante International chair Garry Martinez;
UP professor Danilo A. Arao;
RX Pork convenor Robert T. Mendoza;
Scrap Pork Network members Mae Paner or Juana Change and Inday Varona;
Noemi Lardizabal-Dado;
Deng Silorio;
Lolita T. Donato;
Gloria G. Arellano;
Maria Aurora Santiago;
Joan Mae Salvador;
Vencer Mari Crisostomo and
Concepcion E. Empeno.

How Aquino impeachment petitioners plan to offset numbers game in Congress By Marc Jayson Cayabyab |INQUIRER.net 2:27 pm | Monday, July 21st, 2014


Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The numbers game may not favor the complainants in the impeachment rap against President Benigno Aquino III within the halls of the House of Representatives, so they are keen on trying their luck in various communities.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes on Monday said the battle for the complaint to prosper is in the communities and not in the lower Congress, long dominated by presidential allies.

“Ang aming plano, iikot kami sa iba-ibang komunidad, kakausapin ang mga mamamayan (Our plan is to go around the communities and talk to the people),” Reyes, one of the petitioners, said.

“Ang tagumpay ng impeachment ay hindi sa bilang ng mga kongresista. Nakasalalay ito sa taumbayan (The victory of the impeachment is not in the numbers of the congressmen. It is in the people),” he added.

Members of the majority bloc, led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, have long said the complaint will not prosper in the chamber.

Reyes thus urged congressmen to veer away from the influence of Malacañang and consider the impeachment complaint.

“Ang hamon sa mambabatas: Pagkakataon na para ituwid ang nagawang pang-aagaw ng kapangyarihan. Huwag naman sila laging paggamit sa Malacañang (Our challenge to lawmakers is: It is time to correct the President’s usurping of power. Congress should not always be Malacañang’s lapdog),” he added.

More impeachment complaints will be filed by groups to be endorsed by other militant representatives, such as Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon and ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio.

According to the complaint, Aquino should be impeached for “violating the Constitution by usurping Congress’ power of the purse, betraying the public trust by exacerbating the corrupt pork barrel system, committing tyrannical abuse of his powers, violating his oath of office and perpetrating multiple counts of technical malversation and corruption of public officials.”

They said Aquino should be impeached for his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), a savings-impounding mechanism, parts of which were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Funds from DAP were also said to be given as incentives to senators who voted to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona.

The complaint was endorsed by Bayan Muna representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate, and Anakpawis Representative Fernando Hicap.

* There are 28 petitioners in the complaint. They are: Reyes;
Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) President Ferdinand Gaite; Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) President Dante Jimenez;
Citizens Crime Watch President Atty. Jose Malvar Villegas;
Retired archbishop Oscar Cruz;
United Church of Christ in the Philippines Bishop Emergencio Padillo;
Iglesia Filipina Independentia Bishop Joselito Cruz.

Former Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza;
University of the Philippines professor Judy Taguiwalo;
musician Monet Silvestre;
Church People’s Alliance Against Pork Barrel convenor Father Benjamin Alforque;
Marie Sol Villalon of the Promotion for Church People’s Response;
Whistleblowers Association of the Philippines president Sandra Cam;
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas chair Rafael Mariano;
Kilusang Mayo Uno chair Elmer Labog;
Migrante International chair Gerry Martinez;
UP professor Danilo Arao;
RX Pork convenor Robert Mendoza

Scrap Pork Network leaders Mae Paner (also known as Juana Change), Inday Varona, Noemi Lardizabal-Dado, and Deng Silorio;
Alerto Mamimili convenor Lolita Donato;
Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) chair Gloria Arellano;
Maria Aurora Santiago;
Joan Mae Salvador of Gabriela;
Anakbayan chair Vencer Crisostomo; and
Concepcion Empeno, mother of missing UP activist Karen Empeño.

Why filing an impeachment case vs Aquino is waste of time By Marc Jayson Cayabyab |INQUIRER.net 9:51 pm | Tuesday, July 1st, 2014


Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. remains confident the impeachment moves against President Benigno Aquino III would not prosper under the House of Representatives that is packed with presidential allies.

“(I am) not worried about possible impeachment,” Belmonte said in a text message after the Supreme Court ruled that the disbursement of the president’s purported “pork barrel” funds under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is illegal.

He added that any impeachment move would not garner enough votes to prosper.

“(SC acted in) good faith and sincere intentions,” Belmonte added.

Belmonte made the statement after a militant youth group warned that it would file an impeachment complaint against the President.

“The SC’s decision is a signal for us to push through with the filing of formal complaints against Aquino and (Budget Secretary Florencio) Abad over DAP,” YOUTH ACT NOW National Convenor Victor Villanueva said in a statement.

“YOUTH ACT NOW will join Kabataan partylist in filing impeachment raps and malversation charges against Aquino and Abad, respectively,” he added.

Meanwhile, militant Bayan Muna lawmakers called a “partial victory” over the SC’s ruling to declare DAP illegal.

“We have condemned President Benigno Aquino’s use of the DAP and DBM Circular 451 during the 2012 budget deliberation because it transforms items in the budget into pork by impounding or withdrawing the funds and realigning these to the projects of selected allies, including senators and congressmen, and LGU officials,” said Rep. Neri Colmenares, who is also one of the petitioners against DAP.

“This leads to corruption and patronage politics and has drained billions of pesos from public funds to highly questionable projects. President Aquino and Sec. Abad must be held accountable for culpable violations of the Constitution,” the senior deputy minority leader added.

DAP funds have been criticized after Senator Jinggoy Estrada exposed that the presidential pork barrel funds were given allegedly as incentives to senators who voted to oust convicted Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Plunder complaint filed vs Binay by Jun Ramirez July 22, 2014 (updated)


JUNJUN AND THE VICE PRESIDENT

A plunder complaint has been filed against Vice President Jejomar Binay, his son, Makati mayor Erwin Jejomar Binay Jr., and 21 others before the Office of the Ombudsman.

According to the nine-page complaint filed by the Save Makati Movement (SMM) headed by Renato L. Bondal and Ching Enciso, the Binays and several Makati officials were allegedly behind the construction of an “overpriced” parking building.

SMM said the city government spent a total of P1.5 billion for the construction of the New Makati City Parking Building along F. Zobel Street in Barangay Poblacion from 2007 to 2013.

Included as respondents were former and incumbent councilors Ferdinand T. Eusebio; Arnold Magpantay; Romeo Medina; Tosca Puno Ramos; Maria Alethea Casal-Uy; Ma. Concepcion Yabut; Virgilio Hilario; Monsour del Rosario; Vince Sese; Nelson Pasia; Salvador Pangilinan; Elias Tolentino; Ruth Tolentino; Henry Jacome; Leo Magpantay; Nemesio “King” Yabut; Armand Padilla; Israel Cruzado; Ma. Theresa De Lara; Angelito Gatchalian and Ernesto Aspillaga.

Cecille Cag-anan of the Commission on Audit (COA) was also listed as one of the respondents for her alleged failure to safeguard public funds allowing the other accused to commit alleged criminal acts.

The construction of the building, the complaint said, was funded through the first appropriation ordinance approved by the Vice President when he was still a mayor. Initial appropriation was P400 million.

When the younger Binay took over in 2010, he and the city councilors allegedly continued to approve six more appropriation ordinances for the continued construction of the building with additional appropriation of P1.1 billion.

* The complaint added that based on the data of the National Statistics Office (NSO), the average cost of construction for commercial and institutional buildings was only about P7,691 per square meter in 2007 and that building the structure at that time would only cost about P245 million.

“The total amount appropriated by respondents to cover the cost of construction as of 2012 was however P1.5 billion or an overprice of more than P1.2 billion,”they said.

“The respondents, particularly the Vice President Jejomar Binay and the incumbent Mayor Erwin Binay violated every rule in construction manuals and government procedures in pushing for a project that was grossly overpriced and funded irregularly through supplemental budgets for five years,” the SMM said.

It alleged that even the initial appropriation of P400 million “is clearly already overpriced by more than P154 million and should merit Vice President Binay being haled to court for plunder.”

“This parking building has become the most expensive parking building in the entire country, if not the entire world, and the Binays should be held responsible for this act of wanton misuse and plunder of public funds,” they added.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Youth vs PNoy file 2nd impeachment By Maricel Cruz, Joyce Pangco Pañares and Rey E. Requejo | Jul. 23, 2014 at 12:01am


Weighing in. Students from various universities raise their fists after filing a second verified impeachment complaint against President Benigno III in the House of Representatives on Tuesday over his unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program. Manny Palmero

YOUTH organizations, student leaders and campus journalists filed a second verified impeachment complaint against President Benigno Aquino III Tuesday over his Disbursement Acceleration Program, parts of which were struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon endorsed the complaint filed at the office of the House secretary general by the 25 youth and student complainants led by anti-pork barrel youth alliance Youth Act Now, accusing the President of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and graft and corruption.

“Since Aquino has shown a clear lack of delicadeza (sense of propriety), wisdom and humility to resign from office over his culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and graft and corruption, the concerned citizens led by youth and student organizations come to Congress today to avail themselves of the constitutional process of impeachment to hold him accountable,” the complainants said in the preface of the complaint.

Ridon appealed to the House leadership to look at the merits of the complaints and vote on it based on their conscience.

“Aquino shouldn’t try to bribe the House and the Senate again. He should respect the constitutional process. If he can’t stand the heat of the impeachment, and if he has any sliver of delicadeza left, he should know what to do,” Ridon said.

* Ridon also slammed Malacañang for its earlier pronouncement that the filing of the impeachment complaint was premature since a motion for reconsideration on the DAP was still before the Supreme Court.

“There was nothing premature in the funneling of over P140 billion in public funds to choice projects and the transformation of taxpayers’ money into presidential pork barrel. Besides, it is never too early for the people to demand accountability,” Ridon said.

He urged colleagues in the House to endorse the impeachment complaint filed by the youth groups, especially lawmakers “who know things about DAP that the public has yet to discover.”

“We ask members of Congress who know anything about the DAP scandal to come forward and endorse this complaint. We will propose that your endorsement be considered by prosecutors in case you face prosecution over DAP. There may be witnesses here in the House. Come out, come out wherever you are. It is time to side with the Filipino people,” Ridon said.


Color of the day. Two students hang peach-colored ribbons on the gates of the Far Eastern University
in Manila demanding accountability for the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration
Program. Danny Pata

Apart from committing culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust through the creation and execution of DAP, petitioners also argued that Aquino attempted to corrupt public officials by allotting extra funds to them right after the impeachment trial of his political nemesis, then Chief Justice Renato Corona, which they said was a crime under the law.

The petitioners also argued that Aquino “committed no less than 116 counts of technical malversation for approving and implementing the 116 DAP-funded projects.

Youth Act Now national convener and lead complainant Victor Villanueva said the impeachment process would give Aquino and the public the “opportunity to present all sides of this large-scale theft of public funds.”

“As we know, Aquino enjoys presidential immunity from suit. Initiating the impeachment process is our only constitutional recourse to stop the President’s deranged, self-absorbed, and arrogant administration from further violating the Constitution,” Villanueva said.

On Monday, the first valid impeachment complaint was filed against President III by 27 individuals led by the left-leaning Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), setting the stage for its eventual transmittal to the House committee on justice.

Two earlier impeachment complaints were filed against Aquino but failed to gain the endorsement of any member of Congress, making them invalid.

Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., who chairs the House committee on justice, maintained that his panel would exercise fair play in the impeachment process against President Aquino provided that complaints are verified.

“We will act on these cases as long as they comply with the requirements,” said Tupas, an administration ally and a prosecutor during the Corona impeachment trial.

In the Palace, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said lawmakers who will go through the impeachment complaint should consider “the sentiment and welfare” of Filipinos.

“Reason should be the primary basis of our lawmakers. In making their decision, we are sure they will take into consideration the sentiment and welfare of our people,” Coloma said.

“It cannot be denied that numbers are important because they will be voting to either pass or junk the impeachment complaint. But we believe that truth, reason, and the welfare of our people should prevail,” he added.

“The President is guilty of tyrannical abuse of power and gross exercise of discretionary powers through his blatant and willful disregard of the prerogatives reserved by the Constitution for the co-equal branches of government,” the youth petitioners said in their complaint.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said Tuesday that no DAP funds were released for the compensation of Hacienda Luisita landowners, contrary to the claim of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas chairman Rafael Mariano.

He said the P7.93 billion funds released to compensate Hacienda Luisita landowners were sourced from the General Appropriations Act in 2010 and 2011, and not through the DAP.

“The KMP is making a factual error in their impeachment complaint. The funds that they’re referring to were already part of the Department of Agrarian Reform’s 2010 and 2011 budgets for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. These allotments were not released through the DAP, nor were they augmentations to the DAP’s budget for CARP,” Abad said.

He said P3.97 billion was allocated for CARP in the 2010 GAA and another P3.97 billion was released to DAR in 2011.

“If you check the list we uploaded on the website, you’ll see that item no. 24, or ‘DAR: Landowners’ Compensation’ does not specify an amount for proposed funding. The fields for ‘Allotment Releases’ and ‘Balance’ for landowners’ compensation are also blank. That’s because all we did was release the Notice for Cash Allocation (NCA) for the CARP so the funds could be released to the proper beneficiaries,” Abad said.

“We wanted to expedite the release of these funds so we could quickly turn over the land due our farmers. The DAP allowed us to do precisely that, so that Hacienda Luisita farmers could finally own the land they’ve worked on for so long,” he added.

Earlier, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said there is no need to conduct a loyalty check among the allies of the Palace in the House of Representatives over the impeachment complaints filed against Aquino.

“Each House member will have to use their own discernment in appreciating the allegations of the impeachment complaint,” Lacierda said.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday deferred action on the administration’s motion for reconsideration on their decision against the DAP.

Instead of dismissing outright the appeal filed by the Executive department, the justices resolved during an en banc session Tuesday to require the nine groups that challenged the DAP before the Supreme Court to file their respective comments on the Palace motion with 10 days.

In a nationally televised speech last Monday, the President warned the Supreme Court justices not to go head to head with the Executive branch, as this might require intervention from Congress.

A court observer said the Court could have dismissed the motion if no new arguments are raised.

Given the 13-0 unanimous decision against the DAP, a reversal of the ruling seemed far-fetched.

In its motion for reconsideration filed July 18, the Palace said the economic stimulus program was designed to accelerate public spending and did not violate the Constitution.

In justifying good faith behind DAP, the Palace urged the justices to consider institutional competence and the value of bureaucratic practices in understanding the constitutional role of the Executive in managing the economy, the authority of Congress to define savings, the shared role of the political departments in preparing the budget and the limited role of the Supreme Court on these matters.

The Office of the Solicitor General also argued the the Supreme Court erred in applying the doctrine of operative fact, which recognizes the validity of the assailed law or action prior to the determination of its unconstitutionality as an operative fact that produced consequences that cannot always be erased, ignored or disregarded.

The Palace also turned the tables on the Court by citing the supposed cross-border transfer of funds committed by the Supreme Court in 2012.

Also on Tuesday, Senator Jinggoy Estrada said he would not support any impeachment complaint against the President, saying this would only divide the nation.

“The country has a lot of problems to solve. Just let the President finish his term in 2016. We are already tired. The people are already tired (of the political chaos),” said Estrada, who is under detention on plunder and graft charges over the pork barrel scam.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, meanwhile, urged the public to uphold the supremacy of the Constitution.

“To insist that ours be a government of laws and not of men is not to subordinate the human person to the law, but to uphold the equality of all before the law so that the powerful may not trample upon the weak and so that all enjoy the freedom of the sons and daughters of God,” the bishops said in a statement signed by CBCP President Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas.

The statement was made after the first valid impeachment was filed against President Aquino on Monday.

The bishops called on the faithful to “submit to the Constitution” for it is “the prime expression of the covenant by which the Filipino people have determined the form and the operations of their government.”

“Let the government show the citizenry that the law is at all times to be obeyed, for only under such a regime are rights and liberties safeguarded,” Villegas said.

The CBCP also said that the decision of Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz to sign the impeachment complaint against President Aquino did not reflect an official Church stand.

“I have no doubt that the good Archbishop himself will like it clarified that his decision to be one of the complainants is his alone, in the exercise of his discretion and as a result of his personal discernment,” Villegas said.

“As in the past, Archbishop Cruz has exhibited a lively interest in the events of our day, as should all Catholics. It should also be clear, however, that the position that any bishop takes on any particular issue is not necessarily that of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines,” Villegas added. – With Rio N. Araja and Ma. Jerrylyn B. Damaso

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Why impeach? By Jojo Robles | Jul. 23, 2014 at 12:01am

The unspoken question framed by sympathizers of Malacañang seems to be: “If President Noynoy Aquino cannot be impeached, why go through the trouble at all?”

But the question presumes not only that it is impossible to impeach Aquino. It also assumes that no good will come out of filing and supporting impeachment complaints, which certainly does not follow, even if you grant that no impeachment will succeed.

The chief spokesman of President Noynoy Aquino, Herminio Coloma, has offered this confident assessment of the chances of any impeachment complaint against his boss prospering in the palace-controlled House of Representatives: “It is undeniable that numbers are important here, because at the end, congressmen will vote if they will approve the complaint or not.”

Coloma’s confidence is not without basis. This is the House, after all, that Aquino himself implied was squarely behind him if the Supreme Court really wanted some mano a mano with Malacañang after the tribunal declared Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program illegal.

And it is the same House that, soon after the court issued its DAP ruling, suddenly revived its call to take away the Judiciary Development Fund from the high court’s supervision and give it to the national treasury. It really looks as if Congress, as they say, has Noynoy’s back.

If that’s the case, then it would certainly appear that the complaints filed in the House to oust Aquino are doomed from the start. But perhaps Malacañang should temper its swagger with some history—specifically, how Joseph Estrada was impeached 14 years ago and how he was forced to step down at the height of the trial of the impeachment case against him in the Senate.

The administration assumes that neither of the two valid impeachment complaints filed against Aquino in the Batasan this week will get anywhere because the endorsers, who belong to the so-called “progressive” left-leaning bloc, will not be able to gather the required signatures from other, presumably pro-Aquino legislators. But what they aren’t telling people is that the House doesn’t even need a simple majority to indict Aquino and start the process for his trial in the Senate.

* Estrada was impeached by the House in November 2000 after then Speaker Manuel Villar declared that the constitutional requirement of the signatures of one-third of the chamber had been gathered, or 73 of what was then a 218-member legislature. After leading the opening prayer, Villar suddenly declared that Estrada had been impeached and ordered the transmission of the President’s indictment to the Senate.

What Coloma and the pro-Aquino media are not saying is that impeachment is not as hard as it sounds, even under an immensely popular President (like Erap was) who is also perceived to have the majority of the House in his pocket (which Erap did). Besides, Estrada’s spokesmen in 2000 were also supremely confident that the President could block any impeachment complaint—and they were very much mistaken.

* * *

There are now 290 members of the House, meaning it would require almost 100 congressmen to sign the complaints against Aquino for them to “automatically” be endorsed to the Senate for trial. That is still a formidable number, given the stranglehold of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and other Aquino supporters on the membership.

But even if the groups calling for Aquino’s impeachment never make it, does that mean that the President will not be hurt by the proceedings? I don’t think so.

This is a critical time in Aquino’s term, when he has less than two years left in office and when his popularity is at an all-time low. Because the DAP controversy (and the pork barrel scam behind it) shows no signs at all of abating, Aquino could spend the remaining 700 or so days left in his term fending off both his impeachment and attempting to shore up his increasingly tattered reputation.

Instead of cementing his legacy, Aquino is in dire danger of leaving the palace in a welter of accusations that could very reasonably end with him in jail, as soon as he leaves office in 2016. And even if the current cases against him are thrown out, new ones could still be filed (as they will be even during this week), which will leave him with his hands full defending himself until the end of his term, severely restricting his plans to get any more work done.

But impeachment proceedings will force Aquino to finally tell all about DAP and quite possibly about the pork barrel scandal, as well, after months and months of stonewalling and refusing to be forthright about both. And forcing Aquino to come clean (instead of just accepting that he is) is the best reason to continue with the proceedings, whether or not he is impeached and regardless of the chances of conviction.

It’s merely ironic that Aquino has to be threatened with impeachment and conviction before he tells his “bosses” the whole truth and mends his ways— say, by firing Budget Secretary Florencio Abad—especially since he has used the weapon of impeachment in the past to remove a sitting Ombudsman and an incumbent Chief Justice. If only because of this, yes, the impeachment of Noynoy Aquino must proceed.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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