Minority mulls impeaching Aquino too
The House minority bloc will decide this week whether or not to pursue an impeachment complaint against President Benigno Aquino III whom they accused of approving the sale of a government property in Baguio City for just a quarter of its market value of P1.9 billion.
Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said that the opposition would have to decide whether or not the case could be grounds for impeachment to avoid the travails being encountered due to the hastily prepared complaint against impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Suarez said it was important to show to the public that the minority was not out to embarrass the President with a petty case because “we will need public support to get the one-third vote of Congress to have him impeached.”
While the minority has fewer than 30 members, he expressed confidence that he could gather at least 95 votes as long as the case against Mr. Aquino was compelling enough and the public was made aware of its gravity.
“We should not engage in a tit-for-tat with the administration. We consider impeachment a very serious charge that has to be backed up by solid evidence and it should not be taken lightly,” said Suarez.
He cited the impeachment case against Corona which has encountered rough sailing in the Senate impeachment court because, he said, it was ill-conceived and ill-prepared.
“For all the government and private resources thrown at CJ Corona, including help from some senator-judges themselves in coming out with evidence, it is noteworthy that he is still fighting back against his critics because he believes that what he is fighting for is right. A lesser man would have given up a long time ago,” said Suarez.
Unlike the House prosecution team which he said used the impeachment trial itself to gather evidence against Corona, the House minority would like to come up with evidence of the President’s transgressions before filing a case, Suarez said.
He said he met three weeks ago with Danilo Lihaylihay, president of Philippine Association of Revenue Informers Inc., who accused President Aquino of selling the 3.4-hectare Governor’s Park property on Session Road in Baguio City for only P500 million to SM Investments when its value was pegged at P1.9 billion.
Lihaylihay also accused Mr. Aquino, along with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, of tax evasion for failing to remit the taxes on the sale.
Lihaylihay claimed that Mr. Aquino could not sell the state property without a law or legislative approval.
However, a lawmaker, who refused to be named because he was not authorized to speak on the issue, said the case was a dud because Mr. Aquino had no direct hand in approving the sale of the Baguio property.
He pointed out that the property was auctioned off as far back as 20 years ago and that it was fully paid for in 1997.
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