SENATE MINORITY LEADER Impeaching Arroyo a ‘pipe dream’

By Maila Ager
First Posted 15:30:00 10/13/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Impeaching President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains a “pipe dream,” Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said on Monday.

“Considering [the House of Representatives’] inclinations, impeachment remains a pipe dream,” Pimentel said in a text message when sought for comment on the new impeachment complaint filed against Arroyo Monday morning, the fourth since she assumed office in 2001.

The House is dominated by Arroyo’s allies, making it practically impossible to get the three-fourth vote needed to transmit an Article of Impeachment to the Senate for investigation and possible trial.

Despite this, opposition Senators Panfilo Lacson Alan Peter Cayetano welcomed the filing of the complaint as an opportunity to address the issues raised against Arroyo.

The issues raised by the complaint filed Monday by a group that includes businessman Jose de Venecia III, Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplico, former transportation official Josefina Lichauco, lawyer Harry Roque, and representatives of civil society, include the national broadband network deal with China, human rights violations, the Northrail project, the Mt. Diwalwal project, the fertilizer fund scam, the alleged bribery of members of the House, the swine scam under the Rural Credit Guarantee Corporation, and electoral fraud in the 2004 election.

However, the complainants decided to withdraw the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front from the list of issues after some lawmakers aired objections.

“Well, at least now, it is a real impeachment [complaint] that has been filed,” Lacson told reporters. “Unlike in the past, when there were complaints slipped in that had no form or substance. Now the House committee [on justice] will hear and understand real evidence, not a farcical complaint.”

Lacson said there is substantial basis to impeach Arroyo based on the issues raised in the complaint.

For his part, Cayetano said the impeachment complaint should be a “matter of justice” more than a numbers game.

“We wish we could do away with the fact that it is a numbers game and that everyone will see that it’s a matter of justice,” he said.

“What I mean is, regardless if anyone [lawmaker] endorses [the complaint] or not, whether only one or many endorse it, that is not the point. The point is the content of the complaint. [When you say it’s a] numbers game, it depends purely on numbers. If you say justice, you will look at the contents,” he said.


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