PNoy ALLIES JUNK 3 IMPEACH SUITS  

SEPT 3 --PHOTO: Unrest in the House. Party-list representatives protest after the House committee on justice (bottom) dumped the three impeachment complaints against President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday, citing insufficiency of substance.House declares insufficiency in substance with a vote of 54-4: THE House committee on justice junked the three impeachment complaints against President Benigno Aquino III Tuesday, ushering in what critics called “a terrible day for the congressional power of the purse.”  By a vote of 54-4, all three complaints were deemed insufficient in substance by the justice panel headed by administration ally and Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. The panel is expected to release a committee report, which will be sent to the plenary for action within 60 session days.

A vote of at least one-third of the 290 House members is needed to finally bury the impeachment complaints against the President. The four leftist lawmakers who endorsed the complaints maintained that the President knowingly violated the Constitution when he authorized the diversion of some P144 billion in public funds to other government projects under his Disbursement Acceleration Program, parts of which have been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Before the voting, Tupas said the final ruling of the Supreme Court, which has been asked to reconsider its decision against the DAP, would have no bearing on the impeachment decision. “The Supreme Court ruling on the DAP has nothing to do with this impeachment process, whether it declares with finality the DAP as constitutional or unconstitutional,” Tupas said.

ALSO: Noy didn’t pressure allies to junk impeach raps – Palace 

SEPT 2 --PHOTO: Majority of the members of the House justice committee on Tuesday, September 2, stand up to signify their affirmative vote on the insufficiency in substance of the three impeachment complaints filed against President Benigno Aquino III. GMA News President Benigno Aquino III did not in any way pressure his allies at the House of Representatives to dismiss three impeachment complaints filed against him, Malacañang said Tuesday. The House justice committee members handed down an independent decision on the impeachment raps against Aquino, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said at a press briefing. “Wala pong ginamit na impluwensya ang ating Pangulo o ang pamahalaan… Sa simula’t sapul ay kinilala natin ang tungkulin ng karapatan ng Kamara ayon sa Saligang Batas na magsagawa ng proseso sa pagtanggap at pagdinig ng impeachment complaints katulad niyan,” Coloma told reporters. In a separate statement, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte maintained the impeachment proceedings against the President were fair and transparent. “We take note that the process took place with transparency, not just according to the rules, but to give the proponents every opportunity to make their case,” Valte said. “Siguro naman ang makikita ng ating mga mamamayan dito ay ang pagsisikap din ng ating mga mambabatas na bigyan ng tamang proseso ito,” she added. *READ MORE...

(ALSO) Palace: Aquino got justice; Lopsided votes dismiss 3 impeach complaints  

SEPT 3 --President Aquino got justice when the justice committee of the House of Representatives voted an identical 54-4 on all three impeachment complaints against him for insufficiency of substance, Malacañang said on Tuesday. With the lopsided voting, the first threat to unseat Aquino passed. “Note that the group that heard the impeachment complaint is called the committee on justice. So, if that was the decision of the committee of justice, perhaps we can say that that was the outcome of the process,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a statement. Dinagat Rep. Kaka Bag-ao said the committee should answer three questions in making its decision: “Is there a need to defend the public from the President? Is he a big obstacle in the development of this country? Should we deny him the one-and-half years to continue his reforms?” She said she did not believe there was enough basis to impeach the President even though some of his attempts at reform might not have followed the letter of the law.

The committee, chaired by Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., on Tuesday dismissed each of the three complaints after a four-hour debate that involved testy exchanges between Aquino’s allies and critics. A heckling incident ensued after a student leader in the audience, one of the complainants, shouted “shame on you” in the middle of voting on the third complaint. He was escorted out of the room, along with other members of militant organizations who began chanting anti-Aquino slogans. “This is a terrible day for the Filipino people,” Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, who endorsed the first impeachment complaint, told the committee after an unsuccessful attempt to stop the voting. Earlier, Colmenares said the lawmakers who endorsed the complaints should be given more time to explain and defend the impeachment complaints, the first ones to be filed against Aquino for culpable violation of the Constitution, graft and corruption, and betrayal of public trust. But Tupas was prevailed upon by the Liberal Party-dominated committee to begin voting on the complaints, which last week passed the first test of sufficiency in form. *CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: ‘Impeach killers’ DAP recipients   

SEPT 4 --LAWMAKERS who killed three impeachment complaints against President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday were themselves recipients of some P203.5 million in funds illegally diverted through the Disbursement Acceleration Program, one of the complainants said Wednesday.
“The biggest injustice is that Aquino allies who benefited from DAP killed the impeachment to defend their pork barrel benefactor in Malacanang,” said Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, which accused the President of a culpable violation of the Constitution based on the disbursement of P144 billion DAP funds from 2011 to 2013. The justice committee headed by administration ally Rep. Niel Tupas of Iloilo junked the three complaints by a vote of 54-4. “Many of those who voted to kill the impeachment were themselves DAP recipients in the past,” Reyes said, citing House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzalez II, Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, Dasmariñas Rep. Elpidio F. Barzaga Jr., Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali, and Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone.

“The committee chairman Tupas who presided over the massacre did not vote but was also a DAP recipient. That’s how rotten the system has become,” Reyes added. Of the 54 panel members who voted to dismiss the impeachment complaints, the biggest DAP allocation of P203.5 million went to Gonzalez, the ruling Liberal Party’s party whip in the House, said Reyes, citing a report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. “Malacanang is delusional if it thinks justice was served. Look at the list of justice committee members voting against impeachment and the list of lawmakers involved in questionable DAP and PDAF releases and you’d see similarities,” Reyes said. Reyes said the second biggest allocation amounting to P88 million went Aggabao, president of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, a member of the majority coalition in the House. Another coalition member, National Unity Party’s Barzaga, got P60.5 million for his district and city, whose mayor is his wife, Jenny. LP spokesman Evardone got P62.7 million, Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo was given P10 million, Umali received P15 million and Tupas got P12.5 million. All are Liberal Party stalwarts. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Despite Woes Contract of MRT maintenance service provider extended at P57 M per month 

SEPT 6 --Despite the successive glitches in the Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT 3), the government has extended the contract of the current maintenance service provider. Lawyer Michael Sagcal, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) spokesman, announced the extension of the contract of Global-Autre Porte Technique, Inc. (Global APT) yesterday on the same day that the MRT 3 suffered another glitch.  Passengers of the southbound MRT 3 train had to be unloaded at the Kamuning Station in Quezon City after it can’t move due to “startup interlock.”  Only last Tuesday, another MRT 3 train had to stop when it was found out that it was running with some doors open. The worst accident that MRT 3 suffered was last month when one of its trains overshot the Pasay City terminal. “The term of Global-APT’s extended services is on a month-to-month basis. It may be terminated at the DOTC’s option anytime after two weeks from September 4. The rate is P57 million per month,” Sagcal explained. BIDDING TO PROCEED Sagcal added that the DOTC’s bidding of the new three-year maintenance contract for MRT 3 will continue despite the suggestion of the MRT Holdings (MRTH) to extend the contract period from one to 10 years. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Enrile pleads not guilty to graft charges   

SEPT 5 --Senator Juan Ponce Enrile made this plea when he was arraigned on Friday morning at the Sandiganbayan Third Division on 15 counts of graft in connection to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam. After the graft court finally accepted amendments proposed by the prosecution in the rap sheets, the arraignment of Enrile and his co-accused on the graft charges finally pushed through since being arraigned for plunder last July 11. Enrile’s co-accused, pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, also pleaded not guilty on all 15 counts of graft. Enrile and those accused with him were charged for conspiring to cause the government undue injury amounting to around P345 million for all 15 counts of graft in diverting and receiving kickbacks from his PDAF to ghost projects of Napoles. On the other hand, Atty. Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, Enrile’s former chief of staff and now co-accused in the cases, refused to enter any plea on the 15 counts of graft. Atty. Anacleto Diaz, the lawyer of Reyes, told reporters that she did not enter pleas due to legal remedies that they sought before the Supreme Court. * READ MORE...

ALSO by Francisco Tatad: The end of a myth  

SEPT 2 --To say that President B. S. Aquino 3rd’s “isolation is now complete,” as my friend and colleague Yen Makabenta says in an earlier piece on this page, may be an overstatement, but The New York Times August 28, 2014 editorial on “Political Mischief in the Philippines” marks a significant shift in the coverage of the Philippines by the world press. The Times, arguably the world’s most powerful newspaper, has apparently decided to take the lead. We should welcome it. Crimes, and high crimes at that, (not simple mischief), with serious implications to our moral, spiritual and democratic existence, have been committed by the Philippine head of state.

But none of these have merited any attention from the normally alert and eagle-eyed American press. None of the learned American journals, academics or public intellectuals appear to have noticed either. The last major article on the Philippines in a distinguished journal was probably “The Philippines without Democracy,” by my good friend Peter Kann, former publisher of the US Wall Street Journal, which appeared in Foreign Affairs, the quarterly journal of the Eastern establishment, in 1974. That was 40 years ago. Now, exactly the same thing could be said: the oldest Asian democracy has been hijacked by a petty tyrant. A review of the state of democracy in the world by Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, in a commencement address at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government last June glanced through the various problems facing the emerging democracies, many of them children of the Arab Spring. But not a word was said on the rape of democracy in the Philippines.

The Times editorial is the first notable article in the Western press to suggest that not all is well in the Philippines. But it does not look at the problem extensively or deeply enough.The Times laments, as many others do, Aquino’s threat to seek two constitutional amendments through Congress, first to allow him a second term, and second, to clip the powers of the Supreme Court, for having declared his multi-billion peso Disbursement Acceleration Program null and void. These ideas are widely opposed, and Aquino knows it. So one day before the Times editorial came out, and one day after the National Transformation Council called for his “immediate resignation” in its August 27 Lipa Declaration, Aquino announced he would no longer push for a second term. But he said nothing about his wanting to clip the powers of the High Court. And one political sidekick–Congressman Edgar Erice of Kalookan–while traveling with him in Mindoro and speaking to the press within Aquino’s hearing, said he would push the second-term proposal anyway. This drew no adverse reaction from the President.*READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

PNoy allies junk 3 impeach suits
 


Unrest in the House. Party-list representatives protest after the House committee on justice (bottom) dumped the three impeachment complaints against President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday, citing insufficiency of substance. Manny Palmero

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 8, 2014 (MANILA STANDARD) POSTED SEPT 3 By Maricel Cruz, Joyce Pangco Pañares- House declares insufficiency in substance with a vote of 54-4:

THE House committee on justice junked the three impeachment complaints against President Benigno Aquino III Tuesday, ushering in what critics called “a terrible day for the congressional power of the purse.”

By a vote of 54-4, all three complaints were deemed insufficient in substance by the justice panel headed by administration ally and Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr.

The panel is expected to release a committee report, which will be sent to the plenary for action within 60 session days. A vote of at least one-third of the 290 House members is needed to finally bury the impeachment complaints against the President.

The four leftist lawmakers who endorsed the complaints maintained that the President knowingly violated the Constitution when he authorized the diversion of some P144 billion in public funds to other government projects under his Disbursement Acceleration Program, parts of which have been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Before the voting, Tupas said the final ruling of the Supreme Court, which has been asked to reconsider its decision against the DAP, would have no bearing on the impeachment decision.

“The Supreme Court ruling on the DAP has nothing to do with this impeachment process, whether it declares with finality the DAP as constitutional or unconstitutional,” Tupas said.

* The first complaint, filed by 28 individuals led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, cited President Aquino for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust for authorizing the DAP. It was filed July 21.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, in his presentation , said President Aquino betrayed the public trust and committed a culpable violation of the Constitution for allegedly allowing the transfer and use of some P144 billion DAP funds.

“These facts are more than enough to pass the test in sufficiency in substance, and we should ask President Aquino to answer,” Colmenares said.

The second complaint, filed by youth groups led by the Kabataan party-list, accused Mr. Aquino of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and graft and corruption over the DAP. It was filed on July 22.

Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon, during his presentation, said the President had committed no less than 116 counts of technical malversation “by realigning at least P144 billion in funds to at least 166 programs, activities and projects under the DAP.”

“If this case is enough to see him jailed almost for life, it should be more than enough to remove him from his post,” Ridon said.

The third complaint filed by various militant groups led by Bayan Muna, charged that the President was guilty of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust for agreeing to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States. It was filed on July 24.

In their presentation for the third complaint, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio and Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus said the Aquino government entered into a lopsided agreement with the United States and approved the deal without the consent of the Senate.

But Palace allies were not convinced that President Aquino had committed any wrongdoing with regard to the DAP and the EDCA.

Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said the impeachment complaint filed against the President over DAP was “prematurely filed and therefore, [could be dismissed] outright.”

Rodriguez said the Supreme Court has yet to decide on the motion for reconsideration filed by the government in its protest against its ruling on the DAP.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Jr. said there was no deliberate intent or malice on the part of the President to use the DAP funds without the consent of Congress.

He said the culpable violation of the Constitution only happens when there is a willful intent to violate the law, and that the President was accorded with the “constitutional presumption of regularity and the presumption of good faith.”

“The action of the President on DAP was based on the Constitution and the Administrative Code of 1987,” Rodriguez said.

Another Aquino ally, Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, warned that any attempt to impeach a President should be based on the “gravest violation of the Constitution,” noting that the President was brought to power in 2010 with the trust and support of 15 million voters in the 2010 elections.

“Is the alleged unconstitutional act so malevolent that it so justifies the undoing of the vote of the 15 million Filipinos?” Aggabao said.

During the panel hearing, Colmenares and Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone had a heated exchange of words when the latter accused the former of being a hypocrite because he also benefited from the DAP.

Colmenares, who said he stopped endorsing projects when he learned about the DAP, shot back that he never called Evardone a turncoat when he ditched former President Gloria Arroyo for President Aquino.

Colmenares also accused Evardone of having received some P100 million in DAP funds for his district in Eastern Samar, a charge Evardone later denied by text message.

Tupas later ordered the exchange stricken from the record.

Outside Congress, members of the National Union of Students of the Philippines bearing placards that said “Stop Yellow Dictatorship” started shouting “Shame on you.” The House security personnel immediately arrested the group of militant students.


Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Malacañang said it is prepared to address street protests and mass mobilizations following the dismissal of three impeachment complaints against the President.

However, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma insisted that the Palace had nothing to do with the dismissal of the complaints.

“The President and this government did not exert any influence (to have the complaints dismissed),” Coloma said.

He echoed Rodriguez, however, in saying that the impeachment complaints based on the DAP were “premature” because the Supreme Court had yet to rule on the government’s motion for reconsideration.

Coloma added: “In our democracy, we are ready to face peaceful expressions of sentiments by our people,” he added.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte added that the process undertaken by the House Committee on Justice was “transparent.”

“We take note that the process took place with transparency, not just according to the rules, but to give the proponents every opportunity to make their case,” Valte said.

After the House vote, Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. warned that “the people must continue to seek accountability elsewhere.”

“It is untenable that the House committee of justice thinks that P144 billion in DAP funds used as presidential pork is not severe enough to merit impeachment,” Reyes said.

“It is outrageous that they think that usurping the powers of Congress and letting one man decide on the use of billions of pesos is not an impeachable offense...It is sad and at the same time a cause for outrage that a venue for accountability such as the impeachment process is being shut close by Aquino’s allies,” he added.

The first two verified impeachment complaints were filed by Bayan and the umbrella network Youth Act Now after the Supreme Court declared several acts under the DAP as unconstitutional.

After the vote, Colmenares said that the House should have deliberated the ouster complaints against the President thoroughly in several committee meetings, and not throw it out in one session.

Ridon dismissed the abrupt decision of the committee to junk the impeachment as “faster than a Gilas fastbreak.”

“Congress has played blind, deaf and mute to the clamor of the Filipino people for justice and accountability against a budding budget dictator. Legislators were given a choice today – to vote for what is right and what is convenient. Despite presenting clear arguments and a substantial recital of facts, they still opted for the latter.”

Tinio said the impeachment process was railroaded.

“Absolutely, it was.. The House justice committee under the previous administration at least had the decency to grant more than just one hearing for determination of sufficiency in substance than this current one under President Aquino, even though they enjoyed a similar advantage in numbers,” Tinio said.

Labor groups also criticized the House decision, saying the act proves that the committee is a committee of patronage, corruption and injustice where numbers, not reason, prevails.

In a statement, the Kilusang Mayo Uno said that the railroading of the impeachment complaint is not surprising because most of Aquino’s allies in Congress have shown its true color for supporting the corrupt acts of Aquino administration.

“We are most disgusted to see the closest allies of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo leading the junking of the complaints. Erstwhile critics of Arroyo also showed their true colors,” KMU spokesperson Elmer Labog said.

“This move is a throwback to the days of Arroyo, when the search for truth and accountability was likewise blocked by presidential allies fattened by pork barrel,” he said.

“We maintain that the Disbursement Acceleration Program is robbery of the people’s money in favor of Aquino’s relatives, friends and allies; Aquino should be held accountable.” – With Vito Barcelo

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

PNoy didn’t pressure allies to junk impeach raps – Palace By ANDREO C. CALONZO, GMA NewsSeptember 2, 2014 3:57pm 553 18 0 582


Majority of the members of the House justice committee on Tuesday, September 2, stand up to signify their affirmative vote on the insufficiency in substance of the three impeachment complaints filed against President Benigno Aquino III. GMA News

President Benigno Aquino III did not in any way pressure his allies at the House of Representatives to dismiss three impeachment complaints filed against him, Malacañang said Tuesday.

The House justice committee members handed down an independent decision on the impeachment raps against Aquino, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said at a press briefing.

“Wala pong ginamit na impluwensya ang ating Pangulo o ang pamahalaan… Sa simula’t sapul ay kinilala natin ang tungkulin ng karapatan ng Kamara ayon sa Saligang Batas na magsagawa ng proseso sa pagtanggap at pagdinig ng impeachment complaints katulad niyan,” Coloma told reporters.

In a separate statement, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte maintained the impeachment proceedings against the President were fair and transparent.

“We take note that the process took place with transparency, not just according to the rules, but to give the proponents every opportunity to make their case,” Valte said.

“Siguro naman ang makikita ng ating mga mamamayan dito ay ang pagsisikap din ng ating mga mambabatas na bigyan ng tamang proseso ito,” she added.

* Earlier in the day, 54 House members, mostly Aquino’s allies, ruled that the impeachment raps against the President were insufficient in substance. Four progressive lawmakers voted in favor of the complaint.

Aquino was accused of culpable violation of the Constitution for implementing the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), and for signing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States. The Supreme court declared parts of the DAP as unconstitutional.

Coloma further said the executive branch is ready to face protests and further legal battles after the dismissal of the impeachment complaints against Aquino.

“Sa ating demokrasya, handa tayong humarap sa mga makatwiran at mapayapang pagpapahayag ng saloobin ng mga mamamayan… Mayroon din silang karapatan na iangat ang issue na iyan sa iba pang larangan. Handa ang ating pamahalaan na harapin ang pangyayaring iyan,” the communications secretary said. – VS, GMA News

FROM THE INQUIRER

Palace: Aquino got justice; Lopsided votes dismiss 3 impeach complaints By DJ Yap |Philippine Daily Inquirer12:59 am | Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014


BY THE NUMBERS By a vote of 54-4 on each of three impeachment complaints, the House justice committee, chaired by Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas, rejects first attempts to unseat President Aquino. LYN RILLON

MANILA, Philippines–President Aquino got justice when the justice committee of the House of Representatives voted an identical 54-4 on all three impeachment complaints against him for insufficiency of substance, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

With the lopsided voting, the first threat to unseat Aquino passed.

“Note that the group that heard the impeachment complaint is called the committee on justice. So, if that was the decision of the committee of justice, perhaps we can say that that was the outcome of the process,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a statement.

Dinagat Rep. Kaka Bag-ao said the committee should answer three questions in making its decision: “Is there a need to defend the public from the President? Is he a big obstacle in the development of this country? Should we deny him the one-and-half years to continue his reforms?”

She said she did not believe there was enough basis to impeach the President even though some of his attempts at reform might not have followed the letter of the law.

The committee, chaired by Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., on Tuesday dismissed each of the three complaints after a four-hour debate that involved testy exchanges between Aquino’s allies and critics.

A heckling incident ensued after a student leader in the audience, one of the complainants, shouted “shame on you” in the middle of voting on the third complaint.

He was escorted out of the room, along with other members of militant organizations who began chanting anti-Aquino slogans.

“This is a terrible day for the Filipino people,” Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, who endorsed the first impeachment complaint, told the committee after an unsuccessful attempt to stop the voting.

Earlier, Colmenares said the lawmakers who endorsed the complaints should be given more time to explain and defend the impeachment complaints, the first ones to be filed against Aquino for culpable violation of the Constitution, graft and corruption, and betrayal of public trust.

But Tupas was prevailed upon by the Liberal Party-dominated committee to begin voting on the complaints, which last week passed the first test of sufficiency in form.

* An impeachment complaint first needs to satisfy requirements on sufficiency in form and substance before it can be judged whether it has sufficient grounds and if there is probable cause. A majority vote is needed each time.

All three impeachment complaints were endorsed by members of the militant Makabayan bloc and filed by their allies.

Vastly outnumbered in the justice committee, and even more so in the 290-member House, they were not able to muster support from other members of the minority.

DAP, Edca

Their first two complaints were lodged in connection with the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in July.

The third was related to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) allowing the US military greater access to Filipino bases nationwide.

The DAP is the subject of a pending motion for reconsideration in the Supreme Court. The high court has yet to resolve petitions questioning the constitutionality of Edca.

But Tupas repeatedly stressed that the justice committee held the power to decide the sufficiency of the complaints without regard for pending actions in the Supreme Court.

In defending the sufficiency of substance of the first complaint, Colmenares said Aquino must answer for the P144 billion used under the DAP stimulus program in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

He said the complaint was based not only on the Supreme Court decision declaring the DAP unconstitutional, but also on memorandums and circulars issued by the government with respect to the stimulus program.

The program allowed the executive to declare savings before the end of the year, use standby appropriations and realign these for other projects not included in the national budget passed by Congress.

Aquino’s serious violations

“These are heavy and serious violations of the constitutional provision that ‘No money shall be paid out of the treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law,’” Colmenares said.

“Mr. Aquino knowingly and intentionally violated the law prohibiting transfer of appropriation, according to the definition of savings under the law, in cross-border augmentation, and spending not covered by budget. For three years, he repeatedly continued this violation involving billions of pesos in funds,” he said.

The debate centered on whether Aquino’s purported offenses were of such a nature that justified removing him from office with more than one-and-a-half years to go.

‘Stealing’ Congress’ power

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said impeaching a President must involve a serious offense that “strikes at the very heart of the nation,” and whose matter of commission must be of the same severity as treason or bribery.

He said he saw no perversity in Aquino’s actions.

But Colmenares said there was perversity in the President’s act of “stealing” Congress’ power of the purse when he realigned savings for projects not listed in the appropriations law.

On the other hand, Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao said the committee must exercise “strict and exacting standards for the removal of a popular President.

“Is the offense charges so profoundly serious, so malevolent to the Constitution … that it justifies undoing the vote of some 15 million Filipinos?” he said.

This argument prompted Alliance of Concerned Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio to remind the committee of the “most popular” former President Joseph Estrada, who was impeached by the House before his ouster through a people power uprising in 2001.

“There’s no basis. The number of votes provides the President no protection against impeachment. The basis should be whether there was violation of the Constitution, the law and his sworn duty,” he said.

Personal

The debate turned personal when Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone brought up DAP funds that purportedly went to Colmenares for some of his projects.

Colmenares quickly denied receiving funds under the DAP, adding that it should not be considered hypocrisy for lawmakers who received the DAP to denounce it.

In the same way, he said, no one should denounce politicians like Evardone “for switching from [the camp of former President Gloria Macapagal-] Arroyo to Aquino.”

At this point, Tupas called a suspension of the proceedings and later moved to strike out Evardone’s and Colmenares’ remarks due to their irrelevant and personal nature.

PH sovereignty
On the third complaint involving Edca, Tinio said Aquino practically surrendered Philippine sovereignty to the Americans when he authorized the agreement, which he described as allowing US bases “rent-free and tax-free” in “agreed locations” anywhere in the Philippines.
 


TESTY EXCHANGE Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, a supporter of the impeachment complaints against President Aquino, exchanges barbs with Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone. LYN RILLON

Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus said that under the agreement, it was conceivable for the United States to occupy Camp Crame or Camp Aguinaldo, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Quezon Memorial Circle and even private subdivisions for military purposes.

“These are not just scary scenarios. To prove that this is not just a figment of our imagination, read the 10 pages of Edca. It contains provisions that are so outrageous,” she said.

But Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. argued that external relations were within the powers of the President.

Reciprocal undertaking

Barzaga cited a Supreme Court ruling that by their voluntary act, nations may “waive” part of their sovereignty for some reciprocal undertaking with another country without violating the Constitution or amounting to the diminution of sovereignty.

To which Tinio replied: “Precisely what we’re saying is that [Edca is] only an executive agreement signed by the alter ego of the President surrendering sovereignty, without even submitting it to Congress to let it decide if it’s justifiable.”

There was also tussling over the role of Edca in the regional power play between China and the United States.

Rodriguez said Edca should help the country face the growing threat posed by China.

But Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said: “China has practically invaded Spratlys but what has the US done about it? It doesn’t say anywhere in Edca that the US will help us against China.”

Eventually, the committee moved to put each of the impeachment complaints to a vote in spite of objections from the Makabayan lawmakers.

Antigovernment chanting

Just before the voting on the third complaint was completed, and when the results became clear, Einstein Recedes, chair of the National Union of Students of the Philippines, suddenly stood up and shouted “Shame on you!”

Other members of groups allied with the Makabayan bloc brought out sheets of paper with antigovernment slogans, including “Stop yellow dictatorship,” and began chanting.

House security quickly clamped down on the activists, grabbing their protest materials and escorting them out of the room.

The committee members did not acknowledge the protesters and adjourned without ceremony.–With a report from Christian Esguerra

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

‘Impeach killers’ DAP recipients By Christine F. Herrera, Maricel V. Cruz | Sep. 04, 2014 at 12:01am

Opposition lawmakers vow to revive fight during the plenary

LAWMAKERS who killed three impeachment complaints against President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday were themselves recipients of some P203.5 million in funds illegally diverted through the Disbursement Acceleration Program, one of the complainants said Wednesday.

“The biggest injustice is that Aquino allies who benefited from DAP killed the impeachment to defend their pork barrel benefactor in Malacanang,” said Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, which accused the President of a culpable violation of the Constitution based on the disbursement of P144 billion DAP funds from 2011 to 2013.

The justice committee headed by administration ally Rep. Niel Tupas of Iloilo junked the three complaints by a vote of 54-4.

“Many of those who voted to kill the impeachment were themselves DAP recipients in the past,” Reyes said, citing House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzalez II, Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, Dasmariñas Rep. Elpidio F. Barzaga Jr., Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali, and Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone.

“The committee chairman Tupas who presided over the massacre did not vote but was also a DAP recipient. That’s how rotten the system has become,” Reyes added.

Of the 54 panel members who voted to dismiss the impeachment complaints, the biggest DAP allocation of P203.5 million went to Gonzalez, the ruling Liberal Party’s party whip in the House, said Reyes, citing a report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.

“Malacanang is delusional if it thinks justice was served. Look at the list of justice committee members voting against impeachment and the list of lawmakers involved in questionable DAP and PDAF releases and you’d see similarities,” Reyes said.

Reyes said the second biggest allocation amounting to P88 million went Aggabao, president of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, a member of the majority coalition in the House.

Another coalition member, National Unity Party’s Barzaga, got P60.5 million for his district and city, whose mayor is his wife, Jenny.

LP spokesman Evardone got P62.7 million, Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo was given P10 million, Umali received P15 million and Tupas got P12.5 million. All are Liberal Party stalwarts.

* Reyes recalled that Evardone, Quimbo, Umali, Aggabao, Barzaga and Tupas were instrumental in the ouster of then Chief Justice Renato Corona, and that President Aquino used the DAP to dish out rewards to those who signed the impeachment complaint or voted to convict Corona.

Evardone was the president of the 188 Movement, the same number of lawmakers who signed the impeachment complaint against Corona.

Quimbo was assigned as impeachment trial spokesman for the prosecution while Tupas, Aggabao, Umali and Barzaga served as congressmen-prosecutors at Corona’s impeachment trial before the Senate.

Tupas presided over Tuesday’s hearing on the three impeachment complaints that were trashed four hours after the complainants presented their charges against the President.

While House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. was not present or did not vote for the dismissal of the impeachment, Reyes said he made clear that he felt the complaints were “weak.”

Belmonte received an allocation of P16.5 million in DAP funds.

“The injustice is that they sought to protect the President in order to preserve a rotten system of patronage and corruption,” Reyes said.

Reyes said the complainants and anti-pork advocates would bring the fight against pork outside of Congress.

“We now bring the contents of the impeachment complaint to the people, in the schools and communities. The fight for accountability will continue outside Congress,” Reyes said.

Although the committee report will still go to the plenary, Tupas said that the dismissal of the three

complaints at the committee level was the end of the impeachment game, and that there was no longer any chance for the complainants to win.

“The committee on justice is the mirror image of the House of Representatives when it comes to impeachment. And I am very confident that whatever the committee on justice says will be sustained by the plenary. In other words, the complaints will be dismissed,” Tupas said in an interview.

But Bayan Muna party-list Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate; and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio insisted that their fight would not end with the orchestrated killing at the committee level of the three impeachment complaints filed against President Aquino.

“There is still the plenary and we are calling on all out colleagues who want to reassert the power of the purse of Congress over the purse to vote and support the impeachment. The people are asking for accountability and they want to know where the P144 billion DAP funds were sourced and where it went,” said Colmenares, who endorsed the first impeachment complaint.

“The complaints are not only sufficient in form and substance, they are more than enough to merit an answer from President Aquino,” he added.

Colmenares, a House deputy minority leader, also accused Malacanang and the ruling Liberal party of orchestrating the dismissal of the impeachment complaints.

Only Colmenares, Zarate, and Gabriela party-list Reps. Luz Ilagan and Emmi De Jesus voted in favor of the complaints.

“It was a shameless massacre of a constitutional process of accountability all in the name and in defense of the corrupt pork barrel system that President Aquino fattened into a new porcine level,” Zarate said.

“Malacanang’s fingerprints were all over the four-hour poorly scripted show. Very clearly now, President Aquino and Malacanang do not want to answer the P144 billion DAP question. We will bring this to the real judges of history, the Filipino people,” Zarate added.

Tinio said the decision of the committee was obviously railroaded and that the endorsers of the complaint were not given enough time to present their case before the committee.

He vowed to fight for the ouster of the President despite the lack of support from the House members who are mostly allied with the administration.

“We will take the debate to the plenary,” Tinio said.

Tupas said that one-third of 290 House members or 98 lawmakers are needed to reverse the decision of the committee.

“Assuming it happens – for the sake of argument – the plenary will then ask the House committee on justice to draft the articles of impeachment and we will submit these to the Senate. But in reality, this is not going to be the case,” Tupas said.

Tupas said the decision of the committee to dismiss the ouster complaints against the President would likely be adopted by the plenary.

Also on Wednesday, a group of health professionals criticized Aquino’s allies for junking the impeachment complaints.

At a news conference in Quezon City, Jossel Ebesate, a registered nurse and Alliance of Health Workers president, slammed the 54 members of the House of Representatives for killing the impeachment complaints against the President.

Ebasate was joined by Edward Malzan, Philippine Nurses Association vice president; Eleazar Sobinsky, Lung Center of the Philippines Employees Association Inc. president; Joseph Carabeo, a community doctor and co-convenor of Rx Abolish Pork Bark System Movement; Eleanor Jara, a doctor and another co-convenor, and Sean Herbert Velchez, a registered nurse and National Orthopedic Hospital Workers’ Union president.

“The allies of the President in Congress have rallied behind him by quickly killing the impeachment complaints filed against him,” Ebasate said.

The government has failed to improve the health care system, look after the welfare of the patients, and improve the lives of the doctors and nurses, he said.

“Our health care system is almost at the deathbed. We are working 24 hours round the clock for the patients, but the government has not done its part,” Velchez told the conference.

“The health care system has not been upgraded, while billions and billions of pesos are lost due to corruption and misappropriation of public funds,” he added.

Carabeo said the House committee on justice swiftly junked the three impeachment complaints because most of its members belonged to the Liberal Party, of which the President is the chairman.

They praised the members of the Makabayan bloc for standing their ground. – With Rio N. Araja

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Contract of MRT maintenance service provider extended at P57 M per month by Kris Bayos September 6, 2014 Share this:


Transportation Woes — Nacionalista Party senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Ferdinand “Bongbong’ Marcos, Antonio Trillanes IV and Cynthia Villar are seen discussing possible measures that can be enacted to ease the transportation problems faced by commuters in Metro Manila during last Wedneaday’s plenary session at the Senate. (Ali Vicoy)

Despite the successive glitches in the Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT 3), the government has extended the contract of the current maintenance service provider.

Lawyer Michael Sagcal, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) spokesman, announced the extension of the contract of Global-Autre Porte Technique, Inc. (Global APT) yesterday on the same day that the MRT 3 suffered another glitch.

Passengers of the southbound MRT 3 train had to be unloaded at the Kamuning Station in Quezon City after it can’t move due to “startup interlock.”

Only last Tuesday, another MRT 3 train had to stop when it was found out that it was running with some doors open.

The worst accident that MRT 3 suffered was last month when one of its trains overshot the Pasay City terminal.

“The term of Global-APT’s extended services is on a month-to-month basis. It may be terminated at the DOTC’s option anytime after two weeks from September 4. The rate is P57 million per month,” Sagcal explained.

BIDDING TO PROCEED

Sagcal added that the DOTC’s bidding of the new three-year maintenance contract for MRT 3 will continue despite the suggestion of the MRT Holdings (MRTH) to extend the contract period from one to 10 years.

* MRTH, which owns 100 percent of MRT Corp. (MRTC), which in turn owns the MRT 3 system, earlier said it prefers to get a 10-year contractor, stressing that maintenance of trains requires longer period. MRTH spokesperson Atty. David Narvasa also said they urged DOTC to wait for the audit findings of rail experts from Hong Kong to ascertain the true state of the MRT 3 system before bidding out the maintenance contract.

The MRTH’s suggestions apparently fell on deaf ears as the DOTC commenced the bidding for the P2.2-billion MRT 3 maintenance contract. However, Sagcal maintained that the DOTC Bids and Awards Committee has adopted the suggestions of the MRTC.

“Our co-party and owner of the MRT 3 facilities, MRTC, provided their comments on the terms of reference. Most, if not all, of their suggestions were adopted by our BAC,” he pointed out.

Despite MRTH’s ownership of MRTC, Sagcal stressed out that MRTH has no personality in the MRT 3’s operations and improvement.

“MRTH has no personality in the rail line’s operation and improvement,” he argued. “If their reasoning is correct (that MRTH and MRTC are the same entity), then we can also sue MRTH if we sue MRTC. Then we would also be able to sue MRTH’s shareholders, since they own MRTH.”

CHARGES MULLED

For the commuters’ part, Elvira Medina of the National Center for Commuter Safety and Protection (NCCSP) is planning to sue Global APT for its performance in maintaining the MRT 3 system.

“Our lawyers and I will work on it this weekend,” was all that Medina said when asked what charges the NCCSP plans to file against Global APT.

Victorino Espiritu of Global APT appealed for commuters’ understanding, stressing that the 15-year-old MRT 3 system is prone to glitches given its aging equipments and rolling stock. Espiritu said that Global APT will also join the bidding for the new MRT 3 maintenance contract.

The MRT 3 runs the length of Epifanio delos Santos Avenue, from Taft Avenue in Pasay City to North Avenue in Quezon City. The 15-year-old elevated rail line is designed to carry 350,000 passengers but average daily ridership hits 540,000 as of recent government data.

The government plans to buyout the private stake at MRTC and to eventually privatize the operation and maintenance of the MRT 3 system, which consequently prevents the DOTC from bidding out a longer maintenance contract.

MAINTENANCE

Meanwhile, newly installed MRT officer-in-charge Renato San Jose said maintenance personnel have been deployed in every train to provide immediate response to technical glitches and avoid longer service interruption during train breakdowns.

San Jose, formerly MRT 3 director for operations, said he had asked Global APT to deploy some of its maintenance personnel to accompany train operators throughout the line’s operating hours and provide immediate assistance during train breakdowns.

“The more trains without glitch that we deploy means the more passengers we can carry and therefore, the lesser queuing time for our passengers,” San Jose said.

San Jose admitted that it takes passengers at least 30 to 40 minutes to line up to get their tickets, pass through security checks, pass through the ticket turnstiles, queue up at the station platform and eventually ride the MRT 3 to their destinations.

Enrile pleads not guilty to graft charges by Jeffrey Damicog September 5, 2014 Share this: “Your honor, not guilty. I have not committed any crime.”

Senator Juan Ponce Enrile made this plea when he was arraigned on Friday morning at the Sandiganbayan Third Division on 15 counts of graft in connection to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

After the graft court finally accepted amendments proposed by the prosecution in the rap sheets, the arraignment of Enrile and his co-accused on the graft charges finally pushed through since being arraigned for plunder last July 11.

Enrile’s co-accused, pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, also pleaded not guilty on all 15 counts of graft.

Enrile and those accused with him were charged for conspiring to cause the government undue injury amounting to around P345 million for all 15 counts of graft in diverting and receiving kickbacks from his PDAF to ghost projects of Napoles.

On the other hand, Atty. Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, Enrile’s former chief of staff and now co-accused in the cases, refused to enter any plea on the 15 counts of graft.

Atty. Anacleto Diaz, the lawyer of Reyes, told reporters that she did not enter pleas due to legal remedies that they sought before the Supreme Court.

* Diaz explained that these remedies would be rendered “academic” if she pleaded not guilty.

“In order to preserve these remedies we are not entering a plea. That’s a recognized legal remedy that anyone can resort to,” he said to the media.

Diaz cited that they sought before the Supreme Court to nullify the resolution of the Ombudsman finding probable cause “because we have been deprived due process of law.”

“Yung sworn statement na pinagbasihan ng probable cause hanggang ngayon wala kaming kopya this despite repeated requests (In spite of repeated requests, up to now we still have not received copies of the sworn statements that were used as basis for finding probable cause),” Diaz lamented.

MANILA TIMES OPINION

The end of a myth September 2, 2014 10:47 pm 


FRANCISCO S. TATAD

To say that President B. S. Aquino 3rd’s “isolation is now complete,” as my friend and colleague Yen Makabenta says in an earlier piece on this page, may be an overstatement, but The New York Times August 28, 2014 editorial on “Political Mischief in the Philippines” marks a significant shift in the coverage of the Philippines by the world press.

The Times, arguably the world’s most powerful newspaper, has apparently decided to take the lead. We should welcome it.

Crimes, and high crimes at that, (not simple mischief), with serious implications to our moral, spiritual and democratic existence, have been committed by the Philippine head of state. But none of these have merited any attention from the normally alert and eagle-eyed American press. None of the learned American journals, academics or public intellectuals appear to have noticed either.

The last major article on the Philippines in a distinguished journal was probably “The Philippines without Democracy,” by my good friend Peter Kann, former publisher of the US Wall Street Journal, which appeared in Foreign Affairs, the quarterly journal of the Eastern establishment, in 1974. That was 40 years ago. Now, exactly the same thing could be said: the oldest Asian democracy has been hijacked by a petty tyrant.

A review of the state of democracy in the world by Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, in a commencement address at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government last June glanced through the various problems facing the emerging democracies, many of them children of the Arab Spring. But not a word was said on the rape of democracy in the Philippines.

The Times editorial is the first notable article in the Western press to suggest that not all is well in the Philippines. But it does not look at the problem extensively or deeply enough.

The Times laments, as many others do, Aquino’s threat to seek two constitutional amendments through Congress, first to allow him a second term, and second, to clip the powers of the Supreme Court, for having declared his multi-billion peso Disbursement Acceleration Program null and void.

These ideas are widely opposed, and Aquino knows it. So one day before the Times editorial came out, and one day after the National Transformation Council called for his “immediate resignation” in its August 27 Lipa Declaration, Aquino announced he would no longer push for a second term.

But he said nothing about his wanting to clip the powers of the High Court. And one political sidekick–Congressman Edgar Erice of Kalookan–while traveling with him in Mindoro and speaking to the press within Aquino’s hearing, said he would push the second-term proposal anyway. This drew no adverse reaction from the President.

* We cannot therefore write off the threat just yet. For although Aquino has done very little to deserve his current term, and he has already weakened the High Court beyond any further weakening, Aquino could easily railroad the amendments, should he decide to do so, just because he could still bribe the completely bribable Congress and manipulate the country’s prostituted automated voting system.

But Aquino’s crimes are not only in the making. Many have already been consummated, and amending the Constitution for his own ends will merely add to them. The actual bribery of Congress in order to impeach and remove Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona and to railroad the widely opposed Reproductive Health Law, the prostitution of the automated voting system, and the untold misuse of billions of pesos of unconstitutional DAP funds are but the most outrageous of his unpunished crimes.

No Filipino president has done anything similar. These have allowed Aquino to control Congress and to subtly threaten every SC justice with impeachment and removal, like Corona, if they fall out of line. So they have tried to toe the line.

This is obvious in their ruling on the Reproductive Health Law, which declared as “not unconstitutional” (except for a few truly execrable provisions) what is wholly and patently unconstitutional, and on the Priority Development Assistance Fund, which outlawed the “pork barrel” for lawmakers, but not the far more massive presidential pork barrel.

In the case of the DAP, however, the Justices had no choice but to rule as they did, declaring it unconstitutional, 13-0, for their own self-preservation and self-respect. As men and women of the law, they had to show that even under the shadow of an overbearing president, they could still say no when the only answer was no, and call white what everyone else knew was white, and black what everyone else knew was black.

But Aquino obviously wants a servile Court, as servile to him as he is to his foreign masters. Thus the threat to turn it into an unabashed rubber stamp. It is a credit to Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Aquino’s own appointee, and the rest of the Court that they have decided to stand their ground.

What we have in the country today is an emerging dictatorship that has seized all levers of power, without declaring a state of emergency, in order to hijack the tripartite system of government and invade even the private lives of citizens.

Aquino exercises the presidency without any sense of its constitutional limits, least of all the doctrine of separation of powers and checks and balances, and the inviolable separation of Church and State.

For their part, the big external powers and the big liberal press which have long tried to hold to account every miscreant leader who defied the prescribed norms anytime anywhere in the world have simply decided to let everything pass. The foreign press has failed to cover Aquino with the same zeal and vigilance with which they had covered Marcos.

Last February, Aquino used a NY Times interview to call on the international community to support his government in its conflict with China, which he accused of acting like Nazi Germany before the annexation of Sudetenland in 1938. From that interview, Times reporter Keith Bradsher volunteered the monumental nonsense that “in his nearly four years as president, Mr. Aquino, 53, has exceeded expectations in his country and the region for what he would be able to accomplish in a nation once known as ‘the sick man of Asia’.”

But the world’s greatest newspaper of record never sought from PNoy the kind of in-depth interview which NYT executive editor A. M. Rosenthal, foreign editor Warren Hoge, and Times correspondent Seth Mydans had with his late mother Cory on Dec. 15, 1985 before she became president. From that interview, the NY Times team came out with a profound reading of Cory Aquino’s capability, which Rosenthal personally transmitted to US Secretary of George Shultz in a private meeting, and to President Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, and Chief of Staff Don Regan during a dinner at the White House.

“That empty-headed woman has no positions. She is a dazed and vacant woman,” Shultz quotes Rosenthal as saying, in the former’s memoirs, Turmoil and Triumph.

But Michael H. Armacost, who had been US ambassador to the Philippines from 1982 to 1984, told Reagan after Rosenthal had left the room, says Shultz, that the Makati businessmen were advising Cory, and that they were “sound.”

Obviously Armacost had an inflated view of the Makati Business Club and never expected that Cory’s first immortal words in office would be, “I hate unsolicited advice.”

Before the 2010 elections, TIME magazine put out a cover story that polished off PNoy as some kind of political “savior”without any hint of his slightest qualification for the highest office. That signaled to the rest of the world, rightly or wrongly, that he was the “American candidate.” And through Smartmatic’s precinct count optical scan machines he was quickly machine-elected.

But not even TIME has cared to revisit the myth it has created, if only to tell its readers that the myth has totally disintegrated and the Western project has collapsed. Hopefully, after today, the world press—from Australia to Japan to Canada, to Latin America, to the Middle East, to Europe, to all of Africa, to the rest of Asia and the US–will try to catch up and correct its terrible omissions and mistakes.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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