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Lozano sends new impeach rap too late

Complaint sent after Arroyo critics file own case

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 14:04:00 10/13/2008

Filed Under: Impeachment

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) Lawyer Oliver Lozano on Monday attempted to file again an impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

This time, however, Lozano?s attempt, who has been accused of being a ?spoiler? in the impeachment process for allegedly submitting ?weak? charges, thus preventing Arroyo?s critics from filing their own cases, has apparently come too late.

Lozano's four-page complaint was mailed Monday morning, after the group of businessman Jose de Venecia III, the original whistleblower in the national broadband network (NBN) deal scandal, civil society groups and militant organizations filed their own 97-page complaint.

Only one impeachment complaint a year can be filed against the president.

De Venecia and company had been waiting since Saturday to file their complaint.

Despite the lateness of the Lozano complaint, director Roberto Maling of the office of the House secretary general, said they would ?receive it administratively? once it arrives.

The complaint Lozano mailed is actually the same one he filed August this year. This complaint, however, was not endorsed to the House committee on justice because it was still covered by the one-year ban on filing an impeachment case.

But Lozano, in a telephone interview, said that, "under the rules, filing by mail has the same effect as filing the complaint personally" at the House secretary general?s office.

He also maintained that the complaint he filed in August remains effective and should be the one considered the official impeachment complaint.

"So the question is, 'Should the De Venecia complaint be barred?' I think so because I already have a pending complaint," he said.

Lozano said he decided to file his complaint through registered mail instead of going to the House of Representatives, "to avoid unnecessary confrontation with the group of De Venecia."

He acknowledged his complaint has not been endorsed by any House member yet but added he either Representative Teodoro Locsin Jr. of Makati or Representative Roberto Piñol Jr. of North Cotabato to do so.

South for reaction, Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplic and Bayan Muna (People First) party list Representative Satur Ocampo advised Lozano to check his rules.

"We have filed [a complaint] ahead of him this time. Besides, he should have filed his complaint and verified it in person, and had at least one solon to endorse it," Ocampo said in a text message.

"I will ask him to read the rules on impeachment, filing means personal filing I think we beat him this time," Suplico said.

Leah Navarro of the Black and White Movement said her reaction to Lozano?s complaint was "laughter, hilarity chuckling, giggling."

The other signatories to the Lozano complaint are lawyers Elly Velez Pamatong and Evangeline Junio Lozano.

The three lawyers charged Arroyo with betrayal of public trust for the government?s entering into a memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and NBN deal with China's ZTE Corp., which has been tainted by allegations of overpricing and kickbacks.

"The action taken by [presidential peace adviser] Secretary Hermogenes Esperon [Jr.] to conclude the MOA is an act of the President. As secretary, General Esperon is the extension of the President's personality," the complaint said.

The MOA, it added, "will incite a bloody civil war between the Muslim rebel groups and the distressed Christians."

"Impeachment may impel recession of the MOA based on the violence used by MILF to unilaterally enforce it as a 'done deal.' The violent method is contrary to law. All laws are deemed incorporated in all agreements including the MOA," the complaint said.

Lozano filed an impeachment complaint against Arroyo in 2005, 2006,
September 2007 and in February and August this year.

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