LP stalwarts defend Aquino from impeachment raps
MANILA, Philippines—Liberal Party stalwarts defended President Benigno Aquino III during the committee hearing over the three impeachment complaints lodged in the House of Representatives.
The Aquino allies made the statement during Tuesday’s hearing of the justice committee as the panel voted that the three complaints against the President were sufficient in form.
“While we in the Liberal Party exercise liberalism… this is a very important case. We are impeaching no less than the President, the highest official of the land,” Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said.
Evardone added that the panel should not let pass the glaring defects in the form of the complaints.
“We should not set a precedent. We should follow the rules. We are impeaching no less than the President. Kung magiging malamya tayo, aba magiging tatlo singko na ang impeachment,” he added.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares scored Aquino’s allies for opposing the impeachment complaints only because these involve the President.
He said the complainants used the same forms against then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, who had faced an impeachment trial for allegedly deciding in favor of former president Gloria Arroyo, and ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona, who was convicted on false declaration of wealth.
“Alangan naman sabihin natin kapag kasalanan ni President Aquino, OK lang,” Colmenares said.
Marikina Rep. Romero “Miro” Quimbo belied Colmenares’ claims, saying the Liberal Party members in the panel even voted to find as sufficient in form the impeachment raps.
“It’s far from the truth today… Let it be a reminder to the complainants to stick to the issue so we can concentrate and we do not muddle it with innuendos,” Quimbo said.
“I am a proud member of the Liberal Party and I am extremely in favor of voting the validity of this verification (of the complaint),” he added.
The panel in an overwhelming majority voted to find sufficiency in form in the three complaints. This means the panel concurred with the verification of the endorsing lawmakers on the complaints.
The committee is set to tackle the sufficiency in substance of the complaints next week.
The first two complaints were about Aquino’s 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 Bayan Muna Representatives Colmenares and Carlos Zarate, Anakpawis Representative Fernando Hicap, Kabataan Representative Terry Ridon, Act Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio and Gabriela Representative Emmi De Jesus.
A fourth impeachment complaint accused Aquino of sustaining the outlawed Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the 2014 budget. The high tribunal declared as unconstitutional the congressional pork 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.
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