House panel to tackle Aquino impeachment raps
MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives justice committee is set to tackle the three impeachment complaints lodged against President Benigno Aquino III.
Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., who chairs the committee, said the panel will tackle the three complaints Tuesday morning.
“The committee will determine first whether the complaints are sufficient in form,” Tupas said in a text message on Monday.
The committee deferred its hearing on the complaints until after the holidays this month for the members to study the complaints to determine whether these are sufficient in form, Tupas said.
The first two complaints were about Aquino’s outlawed Disbursement Acceleration Program, parts of the stimulus program declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The third is over the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which seeks a greater US military presence in the country despite a constitutional ban on foreign bases.
The impeachment complaints were endorsed by militant lawmakers Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate, Anakpawis Rep Fernando Hicap, Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon, Act Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio and Gabriela Rep. Emmi De Jesus.
A fourth impeachment complaint accused Aquino of sustaining the outlawed Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the 2014 budget. The SC declared as unconstitutional the congressional pork barrel fund at the height of a corruption scandal under the alleged scheme of Janet Lim-Napoles.
But the complaint failed to reach the floor in time for the committee referral of the first three complaints.
One of the complainants, Rep. Ridon, said Monday’s anti-pork barrel rally at Luneta Park held on National Heroes’ Day is a “prelude to the imminent downfall” of Aquino.
“Today we march on the streets, tomorrow we impeach the President,” Ridon said in a statement, noting that he remains confident that the committee would rule their impeachment complaints as sufficient in form.
“I believe that the pending complaints will easily be declared sufficient in form, as all of the complaints have satisfied the requirement of verification and endorsement,” Ridon added.
Ridon noted that the impeachment would have to weather the storm in the lower chamber dominated by presidential allies. But he said the real numbers should be based on the number of people who joined Monday’s protest against the pork barrel system.
“President Aquino may think that he controls the numbers when it comes to the impeachment process, yet the real numbers that matter are the thousands of ordinary citizens gathered here today (Monday) to clamor for genuine social change. Today, we march in the streets to remind the president that he is no sovereign ruler,
but a mere agent of the people. And the people have spoken clearly: we want you out,” Ridon said.
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