PALACE: HOUSE PROCESS FAIR, OPPOSITION SHOULD ACCEPT DEFEAT

MANILA, September 2, 2005
(STAR) By Aurea Calica And Paolo Romero - Malacañang called on the opposition yesterday to show statesmanship and accept defeat in their bid to impeach President Arroyo, insisting that the just-concluded impeachment proceedings at the House of Representatives were "fair, free and transparent."

"What’s important is that the rules were followed, the walkout should no longer be repeated. The throwing of papers into the air, that was not needed. That was conduct unbecoming of a House member," Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye told a press briefing. "The results of the voting should be respected."

The House of Representatives’ committee on justice voted last Wednesday to junk the impeachment complaint against Mrs. Arroyo for lack of substance.

"The justice committee showed that the process was free, fair and democratic and they have observed the process laid down by the Constitution and the law," Bunye said.

Palace officials hope the country can now move on amid threats of spiraling world market prices of crude oil on the frail economy.

The opposition still has a chance to revive their impeachment bid when the entire House of Representatives votes on the committee on justice’s decision to junk the impeachment complaints against Mrs. Arroyo.

"We saw democracy in action in the House. Everyone was given a chance to express their sentiments," said Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

"I hope all of us would continue to observe the rule of law in pursuing our political objectives. This is a vindication of the call for rule of law and justice."

Mrs. Arroyo’s impeachment spokesman, lawyer Romulo Macalintal, said they were happy that Mrs. Arroyo could finally focus on doing her job.

Bunye said the Arroyo administration remains skeptical of opposition warnings that the dismissal of the impeachment complaints could spark massive street protests that could topple Mrs. Arroyo the same way her predecessor, Joseph Estrada, was ousted in 2001.

Ermita said street protests would be respected by the government "as long as they are done peacefully and within the law."

"The President’s detractors should know when to throw in the towel so that we can already get on with the real business of the people," Bunye said. "It’s really the Constitution and the rule of law that won."

The public has grown tired of the political crisis and wants a speedy resolution as soaring world crude prices continue to threaten the country’s economic recovery efforts, he added.

"We are confident that the political atmosphere will ease up in due time to enable the nation to refocus on shoring up fiscal stability, searching for energy alternatives and fighting terror," Bunye said. "The President and the Cabinet are working hard to preserve the economic gains to build confidence, investments and jobs."

What Tyranny?

Bunye said the opposition and other critics of the Arroyo government should no longer complain about the "tyranny of the majority."

He argued that their case was weak from the start and they had to resort to "drama and theatrics," such as the walkout on Tuesday, to generate public sympathy.

Bunye pointed out that as public officials, they should be more mature and decent in accepting the fate of their complaint.

"The process was transparent because it was televised. We were able to watch the arguments for and against the impeachment. We saw that all chances were given to the members of the opposition to express their sentiments about the issue," he said.

"But there should come a point when they would have to make a decision and that would be through a vote. The majority succeeded during the voting. So we have to accept the result of the voting of the committee on justice."

Bunye pointed out the opposition could still reverse the decision of the committee on justice during the plenary debate on the complaint.

"The magic number is still 79," Bunye said, referring to the minimum number of endorsers needed to send the complaint directly to the Senate for trial.

"Unless the opposition comes up with the required number, I suppose the impeachment complaint will suffer the same fate and this would be thrown into the garbage bin," he said.

"They had to resort to a walkout to generate sympathy, but the reverse happened, a lot of people were disgusted as they did not show a good example."

Opposition members walked out on Tuesday, saying they had not been given a chance to be heard on the so-called prejudicial questions over the impeachment, particularly which of the three complaints against the President should be taken up by the House committee.

"But they were not able to come up with the numbers. Their case was weak so we don’t think it’s the tyranny of the majority," Bunye said.

With the justice committee report, Bunye said the completion of the process would be expedited.

"The earlier the matter is fully settled, the more we will have economic stability. The earlier the resolution of the impeachment case, the better for the economy," Bunye said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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