MAR ROXAS COLD TO 2016 ALLIANCE WITH BINAY; Says UNA opposed to LP budget reforms, DAP 

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, presumptive presidential candidate of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), doused cold water Sunday on suggestions of a coalition with the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of Vice President Jejomar Binay. In a statement in Filipino, Roxas said the issue was not about Binay but about who would continue President Aquino’s “daang matuwid” (straight path) governance.
He issued the statement a day after the Inquirer reported that Binay was open to the idea of having the interior secretary as his running mate in the 2016 presidential election. Quoting the President, Roxas said: “We have to choose someone who beyond doubt will continue [Aquino’s] program and clean governance.” Roxas said it was clear that the agenda of UNA remained diametrically opposed to the straight path governance that the LP was pursuing. He noted that UNA opposed the position taken by Aquino and the LP on the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012 and the prosecution of those who pocketed their allocations from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada—allies of Binay—and Sen. Bong Revilla are detained on plunder and graft charges in connection with the P10-billion PDAF scam. Roxas added that UNA was against the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and budget reforms of the administration. “We in LP are fully committed to the leadership and platform of P-Noy and his anticorruption agenda as well as his covenant with our bosses [the people],” he said. “In other words, we are committed to all the programs covered by daang matuwid.” ‘Not a priority’..* READ MORE...

ALSO: UNA scores LP, Palace for bullying CJ, SC justices 

The Liberal Party will exploit every opportunity to bully justices of the Supreme Court amid the adverse decisions on legal challenges against the Palace including lately the tribunal’s ruling that Executive actions creating the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) were unconstitutional. United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary general Toby Tiangco expressed belief that Malacañang cannot distance or disavow itself from the move of the Liberal Party to mobilize its allies in Congress to impeach the justices. “I won’t be surprised if allies of the Adminiatration will exploit every shame campaign or any legislative measure at that, to put the justices into ridicule,” Tiangco stressed. He said that Malañanang was not pleased with the way its appointees in SC have been demonstrating and how their positions run contrary to the policies of the Executive department.

On Palace-led efforts to pry into the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALn) of all the SC justices, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that it would be best for the justices to hear the clamor of the “Boss” which is the Filipino public. “This involves the issue of transparency to the public, on what we should undertake to show our being responsible and accountable public officials should be done to take into consideration the interest of all Filipinos,” he said. “That is not an issue of what the Palace wanted or not, what should be considered here is the principle of transparency and accountability among all public officials regardless of what agency they are part of,” he added. Tiangco, however, sees an all-out Palace campaign against the SC justices.
“Even those they appointed who have not toed the Palace line are being harassed and threatened. This only shows that those running the administration wanted an obedient judiciary. The impeachment gambit against Chief Jutice Lourdes Sereno is a flex of political muscle. Clearly, they want to paralyze justices who are not submissive to the Palace,” Tiangco noted. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace no comment on Binay-Roxas tie-up 

Malacañang on Sunday remained mum on whether President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party was considering working with opposition leader Vice President Jejomar Binay. Communications Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. reiterated his earlier statement that it was not their job to serve as spokespersons of LP. “E kasi po ‘yung sa amin pong tungkulin bilang nagsasalita para sa Pangulo ay hindi po kami talaga nagfofocus sa mga strictly political developments po, ano, at ang atin pong focus talaga ay ‘yung sa trabaho ng gobyerno,” he said over state-run radio dzRB. (It is not our focus, as spokespersons of the President, to delve into strictly political developments. Our focus is on the work of the government.) Malacañang has so far refused to say what Aquino thought of Binay, who is close to the Aquino family because of his ties with former President Corazon Aquino, and his claim that LP was thinking of adopting him or coalescing with the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). Binay, who is eyeing the presidential seat, also recently said he was willing to have Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II as his running mate in 2016. Binay and Roxas have been considered bitter rivals after Roxas lost his vice presidential bid in 2010. But Binay said “nothing is impossible in politics.” Aquino is believed to be grooming Roxas as his successor. Before running for vice president, Roxas was poised to run as LP’s presidential bet but that changed when Mrs. Aquino died, prompting calls for her son to run for higher office.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Binay open to Roxas tie-up   

There was a lot of postelection skirmishing after their bitter vice-presidential fight in 2010.
But Vice President Jejomar Binay, basking in his current leading-presidential-candidate eminence, apparently has no problem with the possibility of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas materializing as his running mate in 2016. “That is one of the things being considered,” Binay told reporters after the award ceremonies for exemplary cooperatives at Land Bank of the Philippines on Friday night. However, he added, the same goes for Sen. Francis Escudero, another senator nursing hopes of running for president. “Nothing is impossible in politics. Everything is possible,” Binay said of a possible merger or coalition between the ruling Liberal Party (LP) and his nominally oppositionist United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). It is a theme on which the Vice President cannot seem to stop himself.
It was Binay who earlier this week announced that the LP—of which Roxas is the titular head and would-be presidential standard-bearer in 2016—was considering a political union with UNA, either by adopting him as its presidential candidate or going into a coalition in 2016. He said he had heard talk of the President choosing him as his anointed in 2016. The idea became a possibility when the sisters of President Benigno Aquino III publicly endorsed and expressed their support for Binay, who was profuse in his gratitude to them, never mind the chorus of denials from alarmed LP party leaders. * READ MORE...

ALSO Inquirer Editorial:  Impeach circus 

The leadership of the House of Representatives is expected to refer the three impeachment complaints filed against President Aquino during the last congressional recess to the justice committee as early as today. We hope that committee members will see the complaints for the political stunts that they are, and throw them out immediately. For exactly the same reason, we also hope that those representatives, some of them members of the same justice committee, who have threatened the Supreme Court with impeachment cases stop, also posthaste. The public is tired of these political games, and our democratic project deserves much better. Impeachment is not the only way to exact accountability from our highest officials; as our own experience of the last decade and a half proves, it isn’t even the most efficient means. It should be used as the Constitution intended, as a true last resort. The complaints backed by the Makabayan bloc in Congress and the threats issued by the Aquino administration’s allies should be rejected for the same reason: They use impeachment for brazen political purposes, as a first resort.

Two of the impeachment complaints against Mr. Aquino are based on the militant left’s optimistic reading of a controversial passage in the unanimous Supreme Court decision on the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program: They interpret the passage about possible liability for those behind the DAP not as a mere judicial aside, but part of the ruling itself. This reading scants the much longer passage in the decision where the lack of liability in the operative fact doctrine is discussed, and is the legal equivalent of wishful thinking. “If there is liability for DAP, then the President has culpably violated the Constitution.” This is a leap in logic that the Court’s decision cannot support. (Not every unconstitutional act amounts to a culpable violation of the Constitution.) But the complaints’ premise is also untenable. As we have noted before, the two complaints are premature, because the Supreme Court has accepted the government’s motion for reconsideration. There is no final ruling on liability just yet. The third complaint is based on the militant left’s horror of the new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the United States. But again it is premature; there is as yet no finding that Edca is unconstitutional, or that President Aquino has severely compromised either national sovereignty or the security of the state. A legal challenge is still pending before the Supreme Court. In other words, what the Makabayan bloc contests is a policy they do not agree with. * READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Mar Roxas cold to 2016 alliance with Binay


Interior Secretary Mar Roxas: ‘Committed’ to platform of Aquino and anticorruption agenda. INQUIRER PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, AUGUST 11, 2014 (INQUIRER) Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, presumptive presidential candidate of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), doused cold water Sunday on suggestions of a coalition with the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

In a statement in Filipino, Roxas said the issue was not about Binay but about who would continue President Aquino’s “daang matuwid” (straight path) governance.

He issued the statement a day after the Inquirer reported that Binay was open to the idea of having the interior secretary as his running mate in the 2016 presidential election.

Quoting the President, Roxas said: “We have to choose someone who beyond doubt will continue [Aquino’s] program and clean governance.”

Roxas said it was clear that the agenda of UNA remained diametrically opposed to the straight path governance that the LP was pursuing.

He noted that UNA opposed the position taken by Aquino and the LP on the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012 and the prosecution of those who pocketed their allocations from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada—allies of Binay—and Sen. Bong Revilla are detained on plunder and graft charges in connection with the P10-billion PDAF scam.

Roxas added that UNA was against the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and budget reforms of the administration.

“We in LP are fully committed to the leadership and platform of P-Noy and his anticorruption agenda as well as his covenant with our bosses [the people],” he said. “In other words, we are committed to all the programs covered by daang matuwid.”


‘Not a priority’
* Malacañang asked politicians not to “second-guess” Aquino on his choice of the administration standard-bearer in the 2016 elections, saying politics was “not a priority” for him at this point.

“Let us not second-guess him because the President is attending to so many priorities,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said over Radyo ng Bayan.

Aquino has kept mum on whom he prefers to succeed him two years from now. But in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) last month, the President called on voters to go for someone “who will, without a shred of doubt, continue the transformation we are achieving.”

The LP’s presumptive standard-bearer is Roxas, who gave way to Aquino and decided to instead run as his vice-presidential candidate in 2010. Roxas lost to then Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, who is now aspiring for the presidency.

Everything possible

Binay said on Saturday that he was open to tapping Roxas as his running mate in 2016, adding he was also willing to pick Sen. Francis Escudero.

“Nothing is impossible in politics. Everything is possible,” the Vice President said, referring to a possible coalition between his UNA and Aquino’s LP.

Binay criticized calls for a term extension for Aquino. “It was a selfish proposal to begin with, motivated more by personal rather than national interest,” he said in a statement.

But the President’s allies continued to pitch for another six-year term for him, one that would obviously require constitutional amendments.

Charter amendments

Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas on Sunday said now was “the best time to change the Constitution because we may never have another chance to have a President who is proven not only as an honest and effective leader but also one who has no other ambition but to turn the Philippines into a great and progressive nation.”

“We are sure that he will never abuse power. I think that we should not waste this opportunity,” he said in a statement.

Coloma said the President “continues to listen to the voice of the people” but maintained that Aquino was “preoccupied with many other things.”

“There’s no such talk [with the Cabinet] because we’re not devoting time on that because we’re preoccupied with so many priority programs,” he said of proposals to extend Aquino’s term.

Commitment to reforms

Whoever will be Aquino’s anointed one in 2016 must be someone who has shown full commitment to the reforms he has begun, and not just somebody who will promise to do so, according to Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.

Pimentel, an avowed supporter of Aquino, said he was just listening to the President’s own message in his most recent Sona, where the Chief Executive said the public should elect a President who would continue the programs and policies he had laid down.

The candidate who will receive Aquino’s support in the next presidential election should not be the subject of any doubt that he or she is also following the administration’s “daang matuwid [straight path],” Pimentel said.

The senator said he was not alluding to anyone and was just voicing his sentiment on the kind of candidate who he hoped the President would support.

“It should not be ‘if or I hope this possible successor will continue the straight path,’ because if that would be the case, this person would not pass. This should be the test [in choosing who to endorse],” the senator said in a phone interview.

“It should be someone who, without any doubt, will continue what he has begun,” he added.

Pimentel also said that if Aquino would support a candidate who he thought was not up to par, he would transfer his allegiance to a better candidate.

“My support for the President is voluntary…. There’s no contract saying I will have to support his candidate,” he said.–With reports from Christian V. Esguerra, Leila B. Salaverria and Julie Aurelio

FROM THE TRIBUNE

UNA scores LP, Palace for bullying CJ, SC justices
Written by Tribune Wires Monday, 11 August 2014 00:00



The Liberal Party will exploit every opportunity to bully justices of the Supreme Court amid the adverse decisions on legal challenges against the Palace including lately the tribunal’s ruling that Executive actions creating the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) were unconstitutional.

United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary general Toby Tiangco expressed belief that Malacañang cannot distance or disavow itself from the move of the Liberal Party to mobilize its allies in Congress to impeach the justices.

“I won’t be surprised if allies of the Adminiatration will exploit every shame campaign or any legislative measure at that, to put the justices into ridicule,” Tiangco stressed.

He said that Malañanang was not pleased with the way its appointees in SC have been demonstrating and how their positions run contrary to the policies of the Executive department.

On Palace-led efforts to pry into the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALn) of all the SC justices, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that it would be best for the justices to hear the clamor of the “Boss” which is the Filipino public.

“This involves the issue of transparency to the public, on what we should undertake to show our being responsible and accountable public officials should be done to take into consideration the interest of all Filipinos,” he said.

“That is not an issue of what the Palace wanted or not, what should be considered here is the principle of transparency and accountability among all public officials regardless of what agency they are part of,” he added.

Tiangco, however, sees an all-out Palace campaign against the SC justices.

“Even those they appointed who have not toed the Palace line are being harassed and threatened. This only shows that those running the administration wanted an obedient judiciary. The impeachment gambit against Chief Jutice Lourdes Sereno is a flex of political muscle. Clearly, they want to paralyze justices who are not submissive to the Palace,” Tiangco noted.

* Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali has long raised the impeachment banner against several justices of the Supreme Court on issues of judicial despotism.

Last week, Iloilo Rep. Neil Tupas said the House committee on justice contemplates on forcing Sereno and other justices to testify at the congressional inquiry with regard the alleged misuse of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF).

Should allies of the Liberal Party succeed in having the magistrates appear before the congressional inquiry and be able to have them bow to thier whims, it will only affirm that the administration now has total control over the three branches of government.

Administration allies in Congress wanted Sereno to appear during the SC budget deliberation, and attend congressional hearings relative to measures of the judicial branch.

“Instead of bullying the Supreme Court in the guise of power of the purse, the real demonstration of the power of the purse is in the budget process. If they are serious, they should remove the lumpsums and most importantly, not allow the redefinition of savings,” Tiangco said.

Tiangco is confident that Sereno and the rest of the justices will not be pressured by LP lawmakers into overturning their ruling on DAP.

According to Tiangco, the JDF is being used as pressure point by the Administration and its allies in Congress to force the SC into overturning its unanimous ruling and getting even with the magistrates decision on DAP.

Budget Secretary Florencio ‘Butch’ Abad is seeking Congress’ concurrence in approving Malacanang’s definition of “savings” in the 2015 General Appropropriations Act (GAA).

The move to redefine the term “savings” in the GAA is seen as a way to “cure” the unconstitutionality of the DAP.

“The only difference of before and now is that the SC declared the DAP unconstitutional. The reason they want to change the definition is for them to continue with DAP-like mechanisms,” he noted.

“Abad has been a congressman for 12 years and former chairman of the powerful appropriations committee, why did he not move to change the definition of ‘savings’ then?”, asked Tiangco.

Not only government offices but even heads of the branches of governments would be required to make a public disclosure of their respective SALNs in the websites if and when the proposed Freedom of Information (FOI) bill is enacted into law.

“Those under salary grade 26 and above (would be covered by the proposed provision) and particularly heads of agencies and offices,” Sen. Grace Poe, sponsor of Senate bill 1733 in the upper chamber said, referring to heads of agencies but including those in the position of the Senate president, House Speaker, Supreme Court justices up to the President.

Poe, chairman of the Senate committee on public information and mass media and sponsor of Senate Bill 1733, also known as the FOI bill, remains optimistic in the passage of the proposed measure under the Aquino administration and will soon be made a priority legislation even if Malacanang listed it 18th in the agenda submitted to Congress recently.

Under the measure, Poe said, Filipino citizens will have the right to request and be granted access to records or information that is under the control of government unless the information requested would jeopardize national security, foreign relations, law enforcement operations, trade and economic secrets, individual’s right to privacy, privileged information as considered in judicial proceedings or information made in executive sessions of Congress and those that are covered by presidential privilege.

These exemptions however, she said, shall not be used to cover up a crime, wrongdoing, graft or corruption, or other illegal activities.

Poe said the proposed legislation will cover all government agencies and instrumentalities, including the executive, legislative, judicial branches of government, local governments as well as government-owned- and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs).

The senator further pointed out that government agencies will also be required to upload on their websites the SALns of the President, Vice President, Cabinet members, senators, congressmen, justices of the Supreme Court, members of the Constitutional bodies and officers of the Armed Forces and Philippine National Police bearing star ranks and government officials with salary grade 27 and above and head of agencies.

“One of our obligations as public official, aside from serving the public is the full disclosure of our assets, liabilities and net worth in order to maintain public trust,” she said.

Incidentally, the group called Coalition of Filipino Consumers (CFC) are calling on PNP Director Gen. Alan Purisima and his underlings to make public their respective SALns.

They made a call in the light of allegations that Purisima supposedly owns several prime properties in Metro Manila and some provinces.

Perferto Tagalog, CFC secretary general claimed that Purisima has consistently refused their request to be provided a copy of his SALN in order to refute the report regarding his alleged assets which include, purported undeclared five condominium units in the cities of Makati and Taguig.

“The public has the right to know how Purisima spend out taxes,” he said.

It was Santiago who introduced in the FOI bill the inclusion of a provision mandating all government agencies to publish and make available for download in their respective websites the following information: audited financial statements, and budget and expenditure records of the respective government agencies; the SALN of public officials with salary grade 27 and above, pursuant to Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees; monthly income, including allowances and sources of income, of all public officials with salary grade 27 and above; and performance review results of government agencies, as prescribed by the Anti-Red Tape Act (Republic Act No. 9485) and other relevant laws.
Angie M. Rosales

FROM THE INQUIRER

Palace no comment on Binay-Roxas tie-up By Kristine Angeli Sabillo |INQUIRER.net2:42 pm | Sunday, August 10th, 2014


Vice President Jejomar Binay and Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Sunday remained mum on whether President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party was considering working with opposition leader Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Communications Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. reiterated his earlier statement that it was not their job to serve as spokespersons of LP.

“E kasi po ‘yung sa amin pong tungkulin bilang nagsasalita para sa Pangulo ay hindi po kami talaga nagfofocus sa mga strictly political developments po, ano, at ang atin pong focus talaga ay ‘yung sa trabaho ng gobyerno,” he said over state-run radio dzRB.(It is not our focus, as spokespersons of the President, to delve into strictly political developments. Our focus is on the work of the government.)

Malacañang has so far refused to say what Aquino thought of Binay, who is close to the Aquino family because of his ties with former President Corazon Aquino, and his claim that LP was thinking of adopting him or coalescing with the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

Binay, who is eyeing the presidential seat, also recently said he was willing to have Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II as his running mate in 2016.

Binay and Roxas have been considered bitter rivals after Roxas lost his vice presidential bid in 2010.

But Binay said “nothing is impossible in politics.”

Aquino is believed to be grooming Roxas as his successor. Before running for vice president, Roxas was poised to run as LP’s presidential bet but that changed when Mrs. Aquino died, prompting calls for her son to run for higher office.

Binay open to Roxas tie-up By Niña P. Calleja and Marlon Ramos |Philippine Daily Inquirer1:59 am | Sunday, August 10th, 2014


Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Vice President Jejomar Binay in a photo taken in July this year by Senator Loren Legarda at Army HQ on Bonifacio Global Center during the visit of US President Barack Obama. Roxas, Binay and Legarda were archrivals for the vice presidency in the 2010 elections. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

There was a lot of postelection skirmishing after their bitter vice-presidential fight in 2010.
But Vice President Jejomar Binay, basking in his current leading-presidential-candidate eminence, apparently has no problem with the possibility of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas materializing as his running mate in 2016.
“That is one of the things being considered,” Binay told reporters after the award ceremonies for exemplary cooperatives at Land Bank of the Philippines on Friday night.
However, he added, the same goes for Sen. Francis Escudero, another senator nursing hopes of running for president.
“Nothing is impossible in politics. Everything is possible,” Binay said of a possible merger or coalition between the ruling Liberal Party (LP) and his nominally oppositionist United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
It is a theme on which the Vice President cannot seem to stop himself.
It was Binay who earlier this week announced that the LP—of which Roxas is the titular head and would-be presidential standard-bearer in 2016—was considering a political union with UNA, either by adopting him as its presidential candidate or going into a coalition in 2016.
He said he had heard talk of the President choosing him as his anointed in 2016.
The idea became a possibility when the sisters of President Benigno Aquino III publicly endorsed and expressed their support for Binay, who was profuse in his gratitude to them, never mind the chorus of denials from alarmed LP party leaders.
* Senate President Franklin Drilon, the LP vice chair, denied that the administration party was just about ready to adopt Binay, insisting that Roxas, who lost the vice-presidential election to Binay in 2010, is still their man.
Binay nonetheless continues to wax positive about a political union with the ruling party.
“When you speak of a coalition, your chances of winning are high and you also develop unity among political parties,” he said on Saturday.
Any politicking and mudslinging would be somehow lessened with political parties merging, he said.
Not up to standards
He shrugged off a dig from Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas, the deputy chair of the LP Visayas parliamentary caucus, that there is no place for Binay in the ruling party and that Binay has to share the party’s straight-arrow ideals for the party to even consider adopting him.
“That is what they said. We just have to respect what they are saying,” Binay said.
Enlarging on Treñas’ theme, Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice on Saturday said Binay would not meet the standards set by the LP for its standard-bearer in 2016.
Erice, who has called for a term extension for Mr. Aquino, doubts that the President would endorse Binay.
“The President has said he will support somebody who will undoubtedly continue the reform programs he has started. In the case of Binay, it’s very doubtful that he will continue the President’s reforms,” Erice said in a phone interview.
“If the Vice President is really leading the surveys, then why is he desperately trying to get the support of the Liberal Party? Why is he desperately trying to get [Interior Secretary] Mar Roxas in the picture? Why is he desperately trying to get the President’s anointment?” he asked.
Corruption allegations
The congressman also pointed out that Binay did not support the major reform programs of the Aquino administration, including the passage of the reproductive health bill and the sin tax bill.
“It would also be awkward for the President to be endorsing somebody whose party mates and allies were indicted for plunder because of the pork barrel scam,” he said, referring to detained Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada.
He said Binay should also explain the truth behind the several allegations of corruption against him instead of dismissing them outright as political harassment.
Binay was recently charged with plunder at the Office of the Ombudsman for acts allegedly committed while he was still mayor of Makati City.

INQUIRER EDITORIAL

Impeach circus
Philippine Daily Inquirer12:10 am | Monday, August 11th, 2014



The leadership of the House of Representatives is expected to refer the three impeachment complaints filed against President Aquino during the last congressional recess to the justice committee as early as today. We hope that committee members will see the complaints for the political stunts that they are, and throw them out immediately.

For exactly the same reason, we also hope that those representatives, some of them members of the same justice committee, who have threatened the Supreme Court with impeachment cases stop, also posthaste. The public is tired of these political games, and our democratic project deserves much better.

Impeachment is not the only way to exact accountability from our highest officials; as our own experience of the last decade and a half proves, it isn’t even the most efficient means. It should be used as the Constitution intended, as a true last resort. The complaints backed by the Makabayan bloc in Congress and the threats issued by the Aquino administration’s allies should be rejected for the same reason: They use impeachment for brazen political purposes, as a first resort.

Two of the impeachment complaints against Mr. Aquino are based on the militant left’s optimistic reading of a controversial passage in the unanimous Supreme Court decision on the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program: They interpret the passage about possible liability for those behind the DAP not as a mere judicial aside, but part of the ruling itself. This reading scants the much longer passage in the decision where the lack of liability in the operative fact doctrine is discussed, and is the legal equivalent of wishful thinking. “If there is liability for DAP, then the President has culpably violated the Constitution.” This is a leap in logic that the Court’s decision cannot support. (Not every unconstitutional act amounts to a culpable violation of the Constitution.)

But the complaints’ premise is also untenable. As we have noted before, the two complaints are premature, because the Supreme Court has accepted the government’s motion for reconsideration. There is no final ruling on liability just yet.

The third complaint is based on the militant left’s horror of the new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the United States. But again it is premature; there is as yet no finding that Edca is unconstitutional, or that President Aquino has severely compromised either national sovereignty or the security of the state. A legal challenge is still pending before the Supreme Court. In other words, what the Makabayan bloc contests is a policy they do not agree with.

* This newspaper has expressed serious reservations about Edca: about whether there was a real need for it, about whether the primary interest it serves is that of the Philippines or of the United States, about whether it should have passed through Senate deliberations first. We will continue to share these concerns, but we do not see the President’s actions in reaching an agreement necessarily impeachable. Problematic, yes. As we have argued before, administration officials should have factored in public support for closer cooperation with the Americans, and dropped the unnecessary layers of secrecy.

They should have worked closely with their allies in the Senate. But impeachable?

The unsubtle threats from the President’s allies in Congress, the rumors of impeachment trouble over the recurrently controversial Judiciary Development Fund, have an obvious purpose: To pressure the Supreme Court into issuing a more favorable second ruling on the DAP.

If anything, these noises from seasoned politicians are even more offensive. Members of the Makabayan bloc think they are not like other politicians; they stage walkouts, they pretend they did not benefit politically from their own pork barrel allocations. But the administration’s allies threaten impeachment because they think the Court is packed with politicians too. The first is political immaturity; the second is political cynicism. For both, impeachment is a stunt. The standard of proof is not scientific or even legal, but merely political.

Enough already. Stop the impeachment circus, and get started on the tedious, grinding work of holding an administration to account.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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