House panel hit for being ‘liberal’ in tackling Aquino impeach raps | Inquirer News
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House panel hit for being ‘liberal’ in tackling Aquino impeach raps

/ 03:24 PM August 26, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—An ally of President Benigno Aquino III denounced the “liberality” with which the House of Representatives justice committee dealt with the three impeachment complaints against Aquino.

An overwhelming majority voted to find as sufficient in form the three impeachment raps against the president, in a surprise move in the chamber dominated by presidential allies.

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Iloilo Rep Niel Tupas Jr., who chairs the committee, asked the panel to be “liberal” in finding the sufficiency in form of the complaints despite some glaring defects.

For one, the first impeachment complaint over DAP endorsed by Bayan Muna contains a different petitioner from the endorsement by the representatives, Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said.

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Fariñas said the endorsement resolution cited Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) while the complaint named Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr. and VACC chair Dante Jimenez as petitioners.

Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Fariñas. PHOTO from www.congress.gov.ph

Fariñas also said Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares did not ask certification from the groups to be named as petitioners in the endorsement resolution.

Colmenares said this error should not be an issue to make their complaint insufficient in form.

Meanwhile, the second impeachment rap endorsed by Kabataan party-list did not include the proper identification of the complainants as verified by the endorser, Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said.

Despite the errors, the committee voted to find sufficient in form the first two complaints.

Before the committee was set to vote on the third impeachment complaint, Deputy Speaker Leyte Rep. Sergio Apostol volunteered to file the motion for the rap’s sufficiency in form.

“We are approving everything by liberality so I move that we approve also (the third impeachment complaint),” Apostol said, drawing laughter from the panel.

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There was no objection in approving sufficiency in form of the third complaint.

Tupas said the committee should not “trivialize” the deliberations.

“This is an impeachment proceeding. We should not trivialize the powers of the justice committee,” Tupas said in the hearing.

After the hearing, Tupas expressed his distaste on Apostol’s claims that the panel is only approving the complaints despite its defects.

“May statement na tingin ko hindi maganda. Ina-approve lang daw namin lahat. (There’s a statement that I thought did not sound right: That we approve everything.) It’s a very, very inaccurate statement because we have rules… Sabi ko hindi pwedeng i-trivialize natin sa ganito dahil seryoso ito (I said we cannot trivialize this because this is serious proceeding),” Tupas said.

Despite this, Tupas said the committee still fared well because the panel did not shy away from debate.

“Pinapakita namin na hidni kami natatakot i-divide ang House (It shows that we are not afraid of dividing the House),” Tupas said.

The first two complaints were about Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program, a stimulus program declared partly unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The third rap 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 raps were endorsed by militant lawmakers 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 rap accused Aquino of sustaining the outlawed Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the 2014 budget. The SC 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.

RELATED STORIES

3 Aquino impeach raps sufficient in form, according to House body

Apostol moves to junk two other impeachment raps vs Aquino

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, Congress, impeachment complaints, justice committee, Neri Colmenares, Niel Tupas, Rodolfo Fariñas
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