2nd impeachment case filed vs Aquino
MANILA, Philippines–Former Iloilo Rep. Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco Jr. on Monday filed an impeachment complaint against President Aquino, accusing him of bribery, betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.
The nine-page complaint was the second lodged against Aquino in the House of Representatives since the Supreme Court on Tuesday declared his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.
Oliver Lozano, described as an “ambulance-chasing” private lawyer, earlier made a similar ouster move, but congressmen said his complaint was weak and lacked substance.
Syjuco, former head of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) under the Arroyo administration, cited three grounds in his complaint, including corruption of senators and representatives in the impeachment trial in 2012 of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“After the senators received DAP funds as a reward for the successful conviction and impeachment of Chief Justice Corona, President Aquino is likewise equally guilty of the crime of bribery together with the senators who received the DAP funds,” Syjuco said.
“Since President Aquino caused and approved the creation and implementation of the DAP fully knowing that the same is in blatant contrast with the Constitution, this puts his act to the degree of culpable violation of the Constitution,” he said.
Syjuco’s impeachment paper was signed by 20 other complainants—Josebell R. Pates, Alan Richard B. Lacson, Michael N. Balaguer, Ruel S. Caballero, Mary Jane O. Balaguer, Mario F. Mugol, James Andres Morales, Juan Carlos R. Sagre, Pedro D. Asis III, Julius A. Celis, Remegio E. Palconit, Danilo E. Parreno, Robert A. Reyes, Domingo Orcena, Wilfredo C. Mercado, Christian Jamin, Benjamin Estrella Jr., Roberto A. Tatad, Ramon Ibañez and Armando Espinosa.
But just like the Lozano complaint filed last week, Syjuco’s impeachment papers have yet to be endorsed by a member of Congress, which is on a session break.
Syjuco said he submitted his complaint to the House Records Management Service Office “to protect it from intimidation and threats from those who oppose its filing.”
The former Iloilo Representative earlier filed a libel complaint against Aquino for his tirades against him during his 2013 State of the Nation Address.
Aquino had claimed that Tesda, under Syjuco’s watch, was wracked with graft allegations.
Syjuco is facing six graft charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the alleged P61-million overpricing of Tesda training materials. The Sandiganbayan has issued a hold-departure order against him.
Syjuco has repeatedly denied the charges.
Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon declined Lozano’s request for his party-list group to endorse his complaint. Ridon said Lozano’s impeachment papers were “insufficient” and “weak.” Lozano refiled his impeachment complaint on Monday stressing that it was “not insufficient because it is based on the Supreme Court decision, copy attached to the supplemental impeachment complaint.”
Lozano said the President did not act in good faith in implementing the DAP because “he previously sponsored a bill to prohibit executive appropriation of government savings for being illegal and unconstitutional.”
“That the decision of the Supreme Court is prospective is not also a defense. The principle of prospective effect applies only to statutes passed by Congress,” Lozano said.
Edwin Lacierda, the President’s spokesman, dismissed the complaint, saying Syjuco was known for filing cases against the administration. “It’s beyond us to comment,” he said. “What they do is their business, we will not comment.”
Syjuco had filed charges against known Aquino allies. He filed a plunder complaint against Senate President Franklin Drilon over the questionable release of millions in Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) or pork barrel for a project in Iloilo, Drilon’s home province.
He also filed plunder and graft charges against Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Drilon for the questionable release of PDAF to Abad’s wife 10 times her regular pork barrel allocation for the lone district of Batanes.
The votes of about 96 of the 290 members of the House of Representatives are required to impeach a president, and the votes of two thirds of the 24 senators are needed to remove him from office.
But Aquino appears to be immune from any impeachment proceedings, after winning unprecedented control of both Houses following midterm elections in 2013.
Vice President Jejomar Binay’s daughter and political allies in the House of Representatives have declared they would not move against Aquino in the impeachment moves.
In a press conference, Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia said the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), cofounded and comanaged by Binay, had taken a party stand to abstain from voting in the impeachment case, which would require one third of all 290 members to get through the Senate, solely out of delicadeza.
“We see that the VP is the leader and the head and he stands to gain from any impeachment moves, and out of delicadeza, I think it is the right stand that UNA should take. Also consider the implications of supporting an impeachment proceeding or an impeachment complaint, which, if it prospers, will redound to the benefit of our own leader,” said Garcia. “But this is not to say there is no impeachable offense, but when we vote, we vote as a party.”
Aside from Garcia, the UNA members in the House are Representatives Mar-Len Abigail S. Binay and Monique Yazmin Lagdameo of Makati City, Manny Pacquiao of Sarangani province, Tobias Tiangco of Navotas City, Sol Aragones of Laguna province, Gus Tambunting of Parañaque City and Delph Gan Lee of Agri party-list group.
Tiangco said that under House rules, “you must inhibit from voting when there’s conflict of interest, and I think there is conflict of interest here.”
Binay said members could participate in the hearing of the House committee on justice during the vetting of the complaint but they would not act as defenders of the President.
“Those are two different acts. It’s not for me to defend the President nor is it for me to prove there is merit in the impeachment complaint. That is the problem of the one who endorsed it and the one who filed it,” Binay said.
When asked if UNA would help the President if he needed support, Binay said: “We’ll cross the bridge when we get there. It’s hard to defend on what will be the outcome of the impeachment complaint because you cannot just blindly say ‘yes, I will defend’ or ‘no, I will not defend.’ To be honest, I have not read the impeachment complaint,” Binay said.
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