Groups to file impeachment rap vs Aquino over DAP before Sona
MANILA, Philippines—The numbers may not be in their favor, but critics of the administration will file an impeachment complaint against President Aquino when Congress resumes this month.
Groups under the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) will also mount a big rally during the President’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) to muster public support for his impeachment over the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), parts of which have been declared unconstitutional.
“An impeachment is inevitable,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said. “It is our duty to fight for accountability, no matter the odds in Congress.”
Leaders of Bayan-affiliated groups met Thursday at their headquarters in Quezon City to discuss plans, including a protest action during the President’s delivery of the Sona on July 28.
“We’re hoping it will be a bigger rally than last year’s,” he said.
Reyes said he understood that impeaching the President would be a political and legal process, thus the groups would need to “bring the impeachment complaint to the people.”
An impeachment complaint will be filed in the House of Representatives before the Sona, so it can be included in the order of business once the lawmakers resume work, according to Reyes in an interview.
The Bayan leader admitted that the progressive bloc in Congress did not have the numbers to ensure that the impeachment complaint would go to trial.
But other groups from civil society have signified their intention to support the impeachment complaint, said Reyes. He declined to identify the groups “lest they back down.”
Leaders of the ruling coalition have vowed to collectively block any impeachment move against the President, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, a staunch administration ally, said.
But “since the President is immune from suit, the only way to hold him accountable now is to impeach and convict him first then file the appropriate criminal and civil cases once he is removed from office,” Reyes said.
“More than a numbers game, impeachment is the prescribed way of holding the highest officials of the country accountable for their wrongdoing,” he said.
He said Bayan saw as its duty the task of bringing the Supreme Court decision to its “logical conclusion.”
Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon said it was in fact the high tribunal itself in its decision on the DAP that pointed towards the filing of civil, administrative and criminal charges against Mr. Aquino and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
He quoted a paragraph in the 92-page decision penned by Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin: “The decision of operative fact can apply only to the PAPs [projects, activities, and programs] that can no longer be undone, and whose beneficiaries relied in good faith on the validity of the DAP, but cannot apply to the authors, proponents and implementers of the DAP, unless there are concrete findings of good faith in their favor by thee proper tribunals determining their criminal, civil, administrative and other liabilities.”
Ridon said it was clear the Supreme Court was referring to Mr. Aquino and Abad as the “authors, proponents, and implementers” of the DAP who were open to an investigation into their criminal, civil and administrative liabilities.
“The justices of the Supreme Court are in fact telling the Filipino people that Aquino and Abad should be held liable over the DAP,” he said.
Gabriela women’s group said it also supported the move to impeach Mr. Aquino.
“The P157 billion used in the DAP could have been placed in providing health, education and social services. These services which directly affect the lives of ordinary Filipinos, suffered annual cuts in the three years that the DAP was implemented,” said Gert Ranjo-Libang, the group’s vice chair.
Reyes said Bayan was looking into several pieces of evidence in the preparation of the impeachment complaint against the President, including the logical possibility that part of the DAP funds went to the bogus nongovernmental organizations created by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged brains behind the P10 billion pork barrel scam.
“One [piece of evidence] will be the seven memoranda signed by the President authorizing the release of the DAP funds. Part of the DAP funds, P6.5 billion, went to augment PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund], and it is our belief that part of that the P6.5 billion PDAF augmentation went to the senators which in turn went to the Napoles NGOs,” he said.
“That is the most logical way to trace the transaction, and it will show that the DAP releases during this period was nothing more than additional pork releases. It’s like just added tragedy that it ended up in the Napoles NGOs,” Reyes said.
The DAP was a stimulus package introduced by the Aquino administration in 2011 to fast-track public spending and push economic growth.
It came under fire after senators revealed last year that the funds had been used as incentives for legislators who supported the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.