Archive for the ‘Impeachment’ Category

Lawyer Says GMA to Gain from Puno Impeachment

January 20, 2009

For lawyer Theodore Te, the bid to impeach Chief Justice Reynato Puno smells of “political maneuverings” that would benefit the current Malacañang occupant.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat

Does President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stand to benefit from the impeachment of Chief Justice Reynato Puno?

This is a question that has arisen amid alleged moves to impeach him, which were recently exposed by Supreme Court spokesman Midas Marquez. The impeachment bid against the Chief Justice reportedly stems from the non-promulgation of a ruling unseating an opposition member of the House of Representatives.

For Theodore Te, a law professor at the University of the Philippines (UP) and Metro Manila regional coordinator of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), the bid to impeach Puno smells of “political maneuverings” that would benefit the current Malacañang occupant. “At this point, Gloria stands to gain from any measure that would ensure that she is not prosecuted for the crimes she has committed – all the impeachable offenses she would have been found liable for had it not been for Jose de Venecia’s and later Prospero Nograles’ respective Houses,” Te told Bulatlat in an interview.

In a press conference last month, lawyer and businessman Louie Biraogo denounced what he described as an “irregularity” in the Supreme Court’s decision-making process.

He was referring to the non-promulgation of a July 15, 2008 draft decision unseating Negros Oriental Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong, who had won by over 7,000 votes over her closest opponent, Olivia Paras, in the 2007 elections. The ruling upholds Limkaichong’s disqualification from holding office for being a Chinese citizen.

“My suspicion is the Chief Justice may have a hand in this irregularity,” Biraogo said. “These circumstances led me to believe the Chief Justice may have been dishonest in his dealings … and may prejudice the faith of people in the judiciary.”

Paras is the wife of former Rep. Jacinto Paras, a member of Arroyo’s Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi or Partner of the Free Filipino).

Penned by Associate Justice Ruben Reyes, who has recently retired, the July 15, 2008 draft decision on the Limkaichong case had been signed by all justices except Puno himself. But nine of the 14 justices who signed it concurred only “in the result” and did not agree with Reyes’s reasoning. Puno thereafter convinced his colleagues to reconsider the ruling, and subsequently, the Supreme Court “unanimously decided to withhold” its promulgation. The High Tribunal also scheduled oral arguments to be held last August.

“As Chief Justice, (Puno) has the function of ensuring that the decision would be authoritative, meaning it would be followed as law, not only by the parties to the case but also other parties similarly situated,” Te told Bulatlat in an interview. “Under these circumstances, it might have been necessary for Puno to step in considering that the Reyes ponencia did two things: 1. declare a candidate who had been allowed to run by the Comelec (Commission on Elections) as disqualified, and 2. declare a clear winner, by over 7,000 votes, as ineligible to occupy the office to which she was elected and to strike her off the rolls of the House of Representatives. Had the decision been promulgated with majority concurring only in the result, it would have been unclear, at least to Limkaichong’s constituents who had elected her to office, why their duly-elected representative was now disqualified.”

Te also noted that in his reflections on the draft decision, Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said that the Comelec resolutions of May 17 and June 29, 2007 disqualifying Limkaichong were rendered “in grave abuse of discretion” and pointed out his reasons for saying so. These were the same Comelec resolutions affirmed by the ruling Reyes penned.

Te said that a ruling where majority of the justices concur only “in the result” is worthless. “A ruling where majority concurred only “in the result” has no authoritative value. The latter feature is that which makes Supreme Court decisions part of the law of the land and that which makes its Decisions ‘precedent-setting’. Reyes’s reasoning was, to the mind of the majority, so bad that they could not accept it but they all agreed that the result was correct. A ruling that is not binding as precedent is a waste of time,” he said.

Previous non-promulgations

There have been similar incidents where Supreme Court decisions were not promulgated, Te said, citing the cases of Misolas v. Panga and People v. Caruncho.

Justice Abraham Sarmiento (now retired), in 1990, wrote in Misolas v. Panga:

It perplexes me why this dissent should first of all merit what appear to be repartees from the majority. I am but casting a contrary vote, which, after all, is in performance of a constitutional duty.

I am also concerned at how this case has journeyed from ponente to ponente and opinion to opinion, which, rather than expedited its resolution, has delayed it-at the expense of the accused-petitioner.

I was originally assigned to write the decision in this case, and as early as June, 1989, I was ready. On June 14, 1989, I started circulating a decision granting the petition and declaring Presidential Decree No. 1866, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1878-A, unconstitutional and of no force and effect. Meanwhile, Madame Justice Irene Cortes disseminated a dissent. By July 18, 1989, my ponencia had been pending in the office of the Chief Justice for promulgation. It carried signatures of concurrence of eight Justices (including mine), a slim majority, but a majority nonetheless. Five Justices, on the other hand, joined Justice Cortes in her dissent. The Chief Justice did not sign the decision on his word that he was filing a dissent of his own.

Subsequently, and as events would soon unfold quickly and dramatically, the Chief Justice returned my decision to the Court en banc, and declared that unless somebody changed his mind, he was promulgating my decision. Justice Edgardo Paras, who was one of the eight who had stamped their imprimatur on my decision, indicated that he did not want to “clip the wings of the military” and that he was changing his mind. This sudden reversement under the circumstances surrounding its manifestation, took me aback for which I strongly voiced my protest for a case (although the majority is very slim) that I had thought was a settled matter.

I am aware that similar events in the Supreme Court are nothing uncommon. The following are the ringing words of my distinguished colleague, Justice Ameurfina Melencio-Herrera, but they could just as well have been mine, as far as the instant controversy is concerned, and I could not have put it any better:

“It has taken all of a year and four months to what, I hope, will see the final disposition of this case, notwithstanding periodic reminders for an earlier resolution. It is this delay that has caused me a great deal of concern. It is, to me, a crying example of justice delayed and is by no means ‘much ado about nothing.’ … Nor is the question involved ‘none too important.’ … The bone of contention is whether or not a criminal complaint, which is an offense against the State, may be dismissed on the basis of an amicable settlement between the complainant and the accused, who is a public officer.

“As assigned initially, I was to prepare the opinion of the Court. My original ‘ponencia’ annulling the Order of respondent Municipal Judge Eriberto H. Espiritu dismissing the criminal case against respondent Mayor Emiliano Caruncho, granting the petition for Certiorari and Mandamus, and ordering respondent Municipal Judge to reinstate and proceed with the trial on the merits of the criminal case against respondent Mayor without further delay, was circulated beginning July 30, 1982.”


Te said that stopping the promulgation of a Supreme Court decision does not fall under impeachable offenses – particularly betrayal of public trust, which Biraogo appeared to be alluding to in his statement during last month’s press conference. “I do not believe that the failure to promulgate, for so long as the reason is clear and is not intended to favor a specific party, would be actionable,” Te said.

Malacañang

Considering the legal basis for the non-promulgation of the July 15, 2008 draft decision on the Limkaichong case, the issue of the alleged impeachment moves against Puno has assumed political color. Suspicions are rife that Malacañang may have a hand in the impeachment bid against the highest official of the Philippine judiciary.

Malacañang, through Press Secretary Jesus Dureza, has denied having a hand in the alleged moves against Puno. “In fairness, that speculation is so unfair,” Dureza said in a radio interview last Jan. 11.

Asked whether Arroyo stands to benefit from Puno’s impeachment, Te replied in the affirmative. “At this point, Gloria stands to gain from any measure that would ensure that she is not prosecuted for the crimes she has committed – all the impeachable offenses she would have been found liable for had it not been for JdV’s (Jose de Venecia) and later Nogi’s (Prospero Nograles) respective Houses,” he said.

Te warned that even if Puno survives the alleged moves to impeach him, he should brace for more plots by those who want him out of the Supreme Court.

“Take note that it is not only through impeachment that Puno can be ousted,” Te said. “If he is forced to resign, same effect. If Puno weathers this, expect more to come out in the future because Gloria’s supporters might be hoping that Puno would find it untenable to continue.”

He said Puno should expect his connections with businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco and his closeness to Estelito Mendoza during the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos to be played up.

One of Puno’s sons is a top-ranking executive at San Miguel Corporation, where Cojuangco – a top Marcos crony – is the present chief executive officer. From 1971 to 1974, Puno was a solicitor at the Office of the Solicitor-General (OSG), which was then headed by Mendoza.

Te also said that those who want Puno out will not stop even if he will be the only non-Arroyo appointee in the High Tribunal by the time Arroyo completes her appointment of seven new justices later this year.

“One may ask, why the big deal?” Te said. “It is a big deal because the spectacle of a Puno and Carpio dissent every time would be a great blow to legitimacy. I think Gloria wants what Marcos never got – an exit into history without a cloud. Her last best chance is for a Supreme Court to rewrite history. With Puno and Carpio still there, I don’t think this would be possible.”

He also said the best way to maintain whatever independence the judiciary still has is for Puno to “stay put” until 2010, when he reaches the age of 70 – the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court justices. (Bulatlat.com)

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Gonzalez remark on Marcelino ‘dangerous’

January 16, 2009

Tamano: ‘It could be used to overturn drug cases’

By Christian V. Esguerra, Jocelyn Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:38:00 01/16/2009

MANILA, Philippines—The political opposition branded as “dangerous” the statement made by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez questioning the inclusion of military men in the fight against the drug menace.

“If Secretary Gonzalez is right, then it could be a basis for overturning all cases and convictions stemming from anti-drug operations,” opposition spokesperson Adel Tamano said.

If he were a defense lawyer in a drug case, he could use Gonzalez’s statement in asking that the case be dismissed “because the case is unconstitutional. So the statement of the secretary of justice is very dangerous,” Tamano said.

Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez said Gonzalez had “sabotaged” the operations of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

“In apparently spiting an agency he now considers a nemesis, he forgot his role in the fight against illegal drugs. With him at the justice department’s helm, PDEA’s operations have been neutered,” the lawmaker said.

After Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors dismissed the charges against drug suspects Richard Brodett Jr., Jorge Joseph and Joseph Tecson, the PDEA claimed that it had received information the prosecutors had been bribed.

The agency’s allegation triggered a word war between PDEA and justice officials.

Palace: Constructive opinion

But Malacañang does not find anything wrong with the statement of Gonzalez that Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino’s participation in operations of the PDEA is “unconstitutional.”

Marcelino is the head of the PDEA Special Enforcement Service that arrested the so-called Alabang Boys in separate buy-bust operations in September last year.

Anthony Golez, deputy presidential spokesperson, Thursday said Gonzalez’s opinion was “constructive” and in fact should prompt the PDEA to review its policy of tapping soldiers as narcotics agents.

Reacting to Gonzalez’s statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Marcelino’s assignment to the PDEA was covered by a circular and was in line with Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Lt. Col. Ernesto Torres Jr., AFP spokesperson, said RA 9165 empowered the PDEA to enlist the support of government agencies and other offices, including the AFP, to support the agency’s drive against illegal drugs.

Covered by orders

A day after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered a ceasefire between the PDEA and the DOJ, Gonzalez came out swinging again, saying Marcelino had no business participating in the agency’s operations.

Gonzalez argued that as a soldier in active service, Marcelino was barred from holding another position in a civilian government agency.

Torres Thursday said the deployment of Marcelino to the PDEA was covered by appropriate orders, including a circular signed six years ago by then Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Dionisio Santiago, now the PDEA chief.

The specific AFP regulations on the assignment of active officers to various government agencies have been incorporated into Circular No. 2 issued on March 12, 2003, according to Torres.

The circular prescribed that active officers could be detailed either as an aide-de camp, a security officer or a military assistant, Marcelino’s designation in the PDEA.

The circular described a military assistant as a commissioned officer of the AFP detailed to a civilian agency for “the purpose of lending professional or technical know-how regarding military matters.”

But not more than 0.5 percent of the total number of active officers and not more than 0.2 percent of the enlisted personnel corps could be deployed outside the military organization.

Soldiers deployed to civilian offices are placed under the AFP’s Headquarters Service Command, according to Torres.

“As far as the Armed Forces is concerned, our actions in detailing our personnel are covered by the circular,” he told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

“So it means that the deployment of Major Marcelino and other officers is covered by a specific regulation of the military,” he said.

The circular, of which only the first page was provided to reporters, was signed by Santiago and then adjutant general, retired Capt. Cesar Carranza, as ordered by the defense secretary.

Torres pointed out that the 2003 circular was issued following the enactment of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Torres also cited other laws supporting the deployment of active military officers to government offices, which included President Ferdinand Marcos’ Executive Order No. 41 issued in 1966 and President Joseph Estrada’s memo issued in 1999.

The memo, dated Jan. 27, 1999, prohibited the assigning of military personnel outside the AFP without prior approval of the President.

Torres said the appointment of Marcelino to the PDEA post was approved by the President.

He added that it was either the President or the defense secretary who approved the assignment of active officers to various government offices.

Asked if Gonzalez’s comment on Marcelino compromised any legal action against the Alabang Boys, deputy spokesperson Golez said: “The justice secretary just aired his concern on that matter.”

“But in the meantime, government lawyers will be seriously studying the opinion verbally issued by the justice secretary,” he said.

Asked if Malacañang would censure Gonzalez for apparently violating the verbal truce, Golez said: “He knows what he’s doing.”

Drug czar for 2 weeks

Better coordination between the DOJ and the PDEA was among the marching orders of Ms Arroyo when she declared herself the country’s “drug czar” Tuesday until the bribery controversy was resolved.

Golez said Ms Arroyo would remain in that post for two weeks during which she would make sure that the “house is in order.”

“That is the most important thing,” he said, “for the law enforcers and prosecutors to make sure that they are in sync.” With reports from Alcuin Papa and Philip C. Tubeza

Gonzalez: Marcelino’s acts not valid

January 16, 2009

By Dona Pazzibugan, Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:49:00 01/15/2009

Filed Under: PDEA-DOJ bribery issue, Illegal drugs, Government offices & agencies, Military

MANILA, Philippines—Marine Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino’s drug-bust operations for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) could be considered “unconstitutional” since active duty military officers like him are barred from holding position in a government agency, according to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez.

“As far as I’m concerned the acts done when you’re not authorized should not have any bearing whatsoever (because) you have no authority,” Gonzalez told reporters Wednesday.

He quoted Article XVI Sec. 5 paragraph 4 of the Constitution that provides that no active military officer may be appointed to any capacity in any civilian office including government agencies.

Marcelino said he was appointed to the post by Malacañang when the PDEA was beginning to build an organic staff and rise from an agency of borrowed personnel.

Marcelino said he was only following orders when assigned to the agency in 2007.

“Marines just go where we are told,” Marcelino told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Wednesday.

The soldier, who had seen action in Mindanao, said he got the assignment on the request of the PDEA and that his detail went through the hierarchy of approving offices: The Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters, the Department of National Defense, and finally, Malacañang.

“It’s not up to us where we will be assigned. We can’t choose where we will be assigned,” he said.

Besides heading the agency’s Special Enforcement Service, Marcelino is also chief of the International Cooperation and Foreign Affairs Service and the Interagency Counternarcotics Operations Network.

Two other military officers, both Marcelino’s “mistahs” (classmates) in the Philippine Military Academy’s Bantay Laya class of 1994, hold key positions at the PDEA—one is acting director of PDEA’s Plans and Operations Service and the other, an army major, handles intelligence.

The soldiers also handle training of recruited agents.

Teodoro brought up question

Gonzalez said Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro brought up the question over Marcelino’s authority to work in the PDEA at the Cabinet meeting Tuesday in which the controversy was discussed.

“Secretary Teodoro mentioned that he (Marcelino) is an active military officer (and) he is covered by the Constitution. That is a specific provision of the law. So if you would analyze that, all his acts are illegal. Unconstitutional and illegal,” Gonzalez said.

It was the PDEA Special Enforcement Service headed by Marcelino that arrested Richard Brodett Jr., Jorge Joseph and Joseph Tecson—the so-called Alabang Boys—in separate buy-bust operations in September last year.

Marcelino disclosed that he was offered bribes ranging from P3 million to P20 million for the release of the suspects. He said he rejected the offers.

Independent probe

The PDEA also claimed that a P50-million bribe led to the dismissal of the drug possession charges against the suspects, prompting a word war between the PDEA and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Even as the prosecutors vehemently denied the allegation, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered five justice officials and prosecutors to go on leave pending an “independent” investigation.

“I never raised this to the President because if it came from me it would be colored. It came about in the course of the (Cabinet) discussion. It was Secretary Teodoro who reacted,” Gonzalez said.

Asked if the arrest of the Alabang Boys could be considered void because Marcelino was the lead agent, Gonzalez said the matter could be questioned in court by the suspects.

“That’s now the subject of investigation and it has been raised before the Court of Appeals,” he said.

“I’m just saying that under the Constitution, he’s disqualified (from working in PDEA) because he’s an active duty (military) officer,” Gonzalez added.

Resign

“If he wants to stay in the PDEA, he should resign from the Armed Forces,” Gonzalez said.

“All the operations handled by Major Marcelino (in PDEA) could be considered invalid, unconstitutional unless you can consider that as a de facto act,” the justice secretary added.

“I don’t think the President can refuse to accept that because that is the Constitution,” Gonzalez added.

Told that active duty military officers were serving in other government offices, Gonzalez said this was the lookout of the heads of the government agencies involved.

Gonzalez said PDEA Director General Dionisio Santiago, a former military chief of staff, could enlist the assistance of anyone except an active duty military officer.

“He can enlist under him (exiled communist party founder) Joma Sison,” Gonzalez quipped.

He said that at the Cabinet meeting, he confronted Santiago for failing to substantiate his claim that a P50-million bribery took place after the arrest of the Alabang Boys.

Charges of bribery have become a major point of debate after Santiago himself admitted at a hearing in the House of Representatives last week that the PDEA floated the P50-million alleged bribe in the media as part of its “psy-war” tactics against the DOJ prosecutors.

Study procedures

“That’s why they have to be properly educated on all procedures required under the (anti-illegal drugs) law,” the justice secretary said.

Right at the inquest, State Prosecutor John Resado already dismissed the drug possession charges against the three suspects due to lapses in the PDEA’s arrest procedure.

Reveal classmate’s name

The dismissal of the charges was upheld upon review by two more state prosecutors and ultimately by Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño, who has strongly denied any wrongdoing in the process.

In the House of Representatives, the committee on dangerous drugs is urging Marcelino to expose in public his mistah who offered him “tatlong manok (three chickens)” or P3 million to drop the charges against the Alabang Boys.

“He (Marcelino) has to eventually grapple with his gut in revealing who is this classmate of his who made the proposal. This is the gap in his otherwise brilliant testimony. His continued refusal will crack his credibility,” Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez said at Wednesday’s committee meeting.

Golez’s proposal for Marcelino to reveal his mistah’s identity to the Office of the Ombudsman was adopted by the committee.

Golez said that it would be better that the Ombudsman take over the bribery probe because Marcelino might have qualms about cooperating with the National Bureau of Investigation, which is under the DOJ.

Marcelino revealed to Golez and other committee members the identity of his classmate in PMA Class of 1994 during an executive session last week.

Senior State Prosecutor Phillip Kimpo, vice chair of the DOJ’s Task Force on Anti-Illegal Drugs, accused Marcelino of “covering up” for his mistah, saying his refusal to name him was “suspicious.” With a report from Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.

Arroyo’s House allies bury impeach rap

December 3, 2008

By Leila Salaverria, Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:18:00 12/03/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Allies of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo saved her anew from an attempt by opposition forces to impeach her, finally sealing the fate of the complaint with an overwhelming vote at the House of Representatives early Wednesday which the minority described as a funeral done with “indecent haste.”

Through nominal voting that started at 9 p.m. Tuesday, 183 were in favor, 21 against, and three abstained from voting on the report of the justice committee that last week dismissed for lack of substance the fourth impeachment complaint against Arroyo.

The lawmakers argued not only on the causes of action filed against the President by a group led by businessman Jose de Venecia III, namesake son of the ousted House Speaker, but also on what was excluded—a deal on an expanded Bangsamoro homeland.

The committee had rejected a last-minute intervention by a group of bloggers to include as a ground for impeachment the memorandum of agreement (MOA) on ancestral domain with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) calling for the establishment of a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) to govern an expanded Moro territory.

Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora cast the vote for the minority who decided to no longer speak on the floor to explain their vote.

“Is this the way to treat a serious impeachment complaint?” he said.

In dismissing the complaint, Bukidnon Rep. Teofisto Guingona III said the administration lawmakers have caused “damage on the faith of the Filipino people and political and government institutions.”

“So what, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo does not care as long as she remains n power through whatever means, even through the barrel of a gun,” Guingona said.

Former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., one of the seven endorsers of the complaint, was not present during the voting.

Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino said the Constitution has made it easy for the pro-impeachment advocates to send the complaint to the Senate for trial with just one-third vote of the House membership.

Eleven members of the opposition bloc left the session hall after registering their “no” vote.

Zamora and South Cotabato Representative Darlene Antonino-Custodio said they saw no reason to still explain their vote.

“It is the administration allies who should explain to the people their vote, why they are killing the impeachment,” Custodio said. “The people know our stand.”

But the endorsers of the complaint, mostly party-list lawmakers, remained in the hall to defend their position against junking the complaint.

Leaving the hall with Zamora and Custodio were Representatives Rufus Rodriguez, Roilo Golez, Joel Villanueva, Cinchona Gonzales, Justin Marc Chipeco, Mujiv Hataman, Mar-len Abigail Binay, Maria Laarni Cayetano, and Benjamin Asilo.

Earlier, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Satur Ocampo, interpellating Quezon City Representative Matias Defensor, protested the impeachment complaint’s dismissal.

Ocampo said the charge of human rights violations could not be labeled an old issue because there have been new cases added in this year’s complaint that were not in previous cases.

Makati Representative Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. said the Memorandum on Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front should have been included in the charges against the President.

Loscin said the MOA-AD could have easily been the “one viable” charge that could send the President into trial.

Locsin said that “the firm exclusion as an article of impeachment of the MOA carving the BJE from the body of our sovereign nation in violation of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, makes everyone who subscribes to this impeachment an accessory to high treason.”

“The BJE would be an independent, anti-Christian, Islamic, fundamentalist, antidemocratic, misogynist but pro-American sultanate,” Locsin said.

“That is a pity because even if this train contains the corpses of an unviable complaint, it will still look like a victim of assassination given a funeral with indecent haste.”

The group of bloggers, led by Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist and television host Manuel Quezon III, had filed the motion for intervention to include the MOA-AD in the dismissed complaint.

Accept defeat

In his opening statement as chair of the justice committee, Defensor presented his panel’s report at the start of plenary debate at 5:30 p.m. and asked his colleagues to accept the decision of the House “without rancor or misgivings” if they fail to get the numbers in the chamber.

Defensor said the Constitution has been “liberal” in requiring only a one-third vote of the total membership of Congress to impeach the President.

“It is but right, therefore, that if the one-third vote of all members of the House is not garnered despite this liberal Constitutional concession, those for impeachment must accept the result without rancor or misgivings,” Defensor said in his sponsorship speech of the justice committee report 1551 dismissing the complaint for lack of substance.

“Impeachment, as many would say, is a question of numbers. True. Nonetheless, a more relevant question is ‘how do you achieve the numbers?’ To say that personal and partisan considerations are the bases to achieve the numbers is to simplify the issue beyond recognition.”

Defensor said the complaint failed to prove the grounds of impeachment that would merit a trial for the President. He said the committee has been transparent in determining the sufficiency in form and substance of the complaint.

“Culpable violation of the Constitution as a ground to impeach a President contemplates a wrongful intention or willful disregard of, or scornful remarks against the fundamental law. It must be deliberate and motivated by bad faith. A mere mistake in the proper construction or application is not tantamount to a culpable violation of the Constitution,” Defensor said.

“Other grounds such as bribery, graft and corruption, and other high crimes or betrayal of public trust must be at the level of treason and culpable violation of the Constitution and go beyond the ambit of ordinary crimes,” he said.

Defensor dismissed as evidence a photograph presented during the committee hearing last week by De Venecia. It showed the former Speaker with the First Couple and ZTE officials in the Chinese firm’s headquarters which secured the scuttled $329-million contract to set up National Broadband Network (NBN) to link digitally the country’s bureaucracy.

“The President went to Shenzhen, China, played golf and had lunch with Shenzhen executives. No culpable overt or personal acts were alleged with only a picture to show. It is not a criminal pose or a mug shot and does not portray a criminal act,” Defensor said.

De Venecia cleared the President

Defensor said that in effect De Venecia cleared the President when he said that only former Commission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos spoke during the meeting with ZTE executives.

Committee report 1551 was submitted earlier on Tuesday by the justice committee.

The justice committee earlier voted 42-8 to dismiss the complaint as “grossly insufficient” in substance. This could have been reversed had the pro-impeachment lawmakers gathered one-third vote or at least 80 members of the House.

Laguna Rep. Maria Evita Arago, who voted to dismiss the complaint, said the President should be allowed to finish her term with just 17 months to go.

Ms Arroyo was in Hong Kong attending the annual Clinton Global Initiative, a two-day conference on education, climate change and energy. She is to return Wednesday.

President firmly in saddle

Secretary Cerge Remonde, Presidential Management Staff chief, conceded that the dismissal would augur well for the country’s political stability and economy.

“It will show the world that democracy and democratic processes are working in the Philippines. And that the administration is firmly on the saddle, and therefore we can continue the important business of governance,” he said.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño warned that the decision to dismiss the complaint bode ill for future attempts to hold the President accountable for her actions.

He said the committee’s ruling that the issues could not be tackled because they were already ruled upon in previous impeachment cases was dangerous.

“The problem here is you will forever insulate the PGMA from the charges. Now, even if the complaint is meaty, you will just say [the charges] were already dismissed last year,” Casiño said.

“Doesn’t this interpretation of the rules set a bad precedent?” he added.

Enough is enough

Shortly before the plenary, Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella accused De Venecia of being behind the government’s projects with China, including the Northrail project and the NBN-ZTE deal.

“Enough is enough. To many Filipinos, PGMA may not be the best President ever but to blame her for everything is just something I cannot swallow anymore, especially when her trust was exploited by the highest official of this House for seven long years,” Puentevella said.

He said it was De Venecia who should be charged because he helped his son try to acquire the NBN deal. The former Speaker had alleged that Ms Arroyo decided to make the NBN project a government-to-government undertaking after a golf game with officials of China’s ZTE.

As for De Venecia’s allegations that he was bribed P500,000 to kill the sham impeachment complaint last year, Puentevella said it was the former Speaker who masterminded it. He also taunted De Venecia for failing to return the money in a year.

Wrong culprit

“Do not throw stones if you live in a glass house. And to all my friends in the minority, well done for your effort but you chose the wrong culprit and the wrong witness,” Puentevella said.

Saying the integrity of the House is at stake, Gabriela party-list Representatives Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan Tuesday filed a resolution calling for an investigation into alleged bribes given in 2007 and 2008 to kill the impeachment attempts.

Maza pointed out that De Venecia, erstwhile ally of Ms Arroyo, had alleged that Malacañang spent about P100 million to kill the 2007 “sham” complaint to afford her a year of political immunity.

Ilagan said her colleagues could take this investigation as the chance to speak up.

Ilagan and Maza also said the alleged bribery of lawmakers to junk the 2008 complaint, as reported in another newspaper, should be looked into as well.

Earlier, running priest Fr. Robert Reyes visited the House of Representatives to pray that the lawmakers see the truth in the impeachment case against the President and to not fool the people.

“What the people need is not a Congress of numbers but a Congress of truth,” Reyes said in his prayer in Filipino.

The complaint was filed on October 13 by De Venecia’s businessman son and namesake, Joey de Venecia III, Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplico; Leah Navarro of the Black and White Movement; the mother of three victims of enforced disappearance, and human rights victims.

The complainants raised the national broadband network agreement with China’s ZTE Corp., human rights violations, the Northrail project, the Mt. Diwalwal project, fertilizer fund scam, alleged bribery of members of the House, the swine scam under the Rural Credit Guarantee Corporation, and electoral fraud in the 2004 election as among the impeachable offenses committed by Ms Arroyo.

The committee earlier junked two other complaints filed by lawyers Oliver Lozano and Guillermo Sotto, and the motion for intervention filed by a group of bloggers to include the MOA-AD. With a report from TJ Burgonio

Minority Solons: House Justice Panel Ignored Facts of Impeach Rap

December 1, 2008

Leaders of the minority bloc at the House of Representatives have criticized their colleagues in the majority for ignoring the facts related to the fourth impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat

Leaders of the minority bloc at the House of Representatives have criticized their colleagues in the majority for ignoring the facts related to the fourth impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“The voting was done along party-lines and not on the merits of the case or on the recital of the facts,” said Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna (People First) Rep. Satur Ocampo in an interview with Bulatlat.

Minority Leader and San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora made a similar observation in an interview on GMA 7’s Unang Hirit. “The voting was done strictly along party lines,” Zamora said.

Filed on Oct. 13, the complaint accuses Arroyo of betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the Consitution, bribery, graft and corruption and other high crimes.

Among the grounds cited against Arroyo in the new impeachment complaint is the overpriced NorthRail Project, which largely involved a $400-million loan from China’s Export-Import Bank. Other grounds involving corruption, which were cited in the complaint are the National Broadband Network (NBN deal) between the Philippine government and China’s ZTE Corporation, the ZTE-Mt. Diwalwal mining contract, and the fertilizer funds scam. The alleged distribution of cash gifts amounting to half a million pesos each to congressmen and local officials at Malacañang in October 2007, the so-called “Hello Garci” controversy, and human rights violations were also cited.

The complainants are businessman Jose de Venecia III, son of former House Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr.; Edita Burgos, mother of missing activist Jonas Burgos; Erlinda Cadapan, mother of missing University of the Philippines (UP) student Sherlyn Cadapan; former Transportation Secretary Josie Lichauco; lawyer Harry Roque; Iloilo Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico; nationalist and civil libertarian Renato Constantino, Jr.; singer Leah Navarro; businessman Henri Kahn; Francisco Alcuaz; actor Rez Cortez; Virgilio Eustaquio; Jose “Linggoy” Alcuaz; Danilo Ramos of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines); Concepcion Empeño, mother of missing UP student Karen Empeño; Elmer Labog of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement); Armando Albarillo, now one of the “Southern Tagalog 72”; Roneo Clamor of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights); and Bebu Bulchand.

On Nov. 18, the House Committee on Justice ruled that the complaint was “sufficient in form.” On Nov. 26, however, the same committee declared the complaint “insufficient in substance” by a vote of 42-8.

Those who voted to declare the complaint insufficient in substance were Capiz Rep. Fred Castro (Lakas-CMD); Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman (Lakas-CMD); Baguio City Rep. Mauricio Domogan (Lakas-CMD); Negros Oriental George Arnaiz (NPC); Iloilo Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr. (Lakas-CMD); Cebu Rep. Pablo John F. Garcia (Kampi); Cebu Rep. Antonio Cuenco (Promdi-BOPK-Lakas); Antique Rep. Exequiel Javier (Lakas-CMD); APEC Rep. Edgar Valdez; Bohol Rep. Edgar Chatto; Lanao Del Sur Rep. Faysah Maniri Racman Dumarpa (Lakas-CMD); Leyte Rep. Eufrocino Codilla Sr. (Lakas-CMD); Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Belma Cabilao (Lakas-CMD); Ifugao Rep. Solomon Chungalao (LP); Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Antonio Cerilles (NPC); Masbate Rep. Rizalina Seachon Lanete; Sulu Rep. Munir Arbison (Lakas-CMD); Bohol Rep. Roberto Cajes (Lakas-CMD); Tawi-Tawi Rep. Nur Jaafar (Lakas-CMD); La Union Rep. Victor Ortega (Lakas-CMD); Lanao Del Sur Rep. Pangalian Balindong (Lakas-CMD); Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona (Lakas-CMD); Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao (NPC); Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas (Kampi); Quirino Rep. Junie Cua (LP); Cebu Rep. Pablo P. Garcia Sr. (Cebu-Kampi); Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga (Kampi); Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco Matugas (Kampi); Sultan Kudarat Rep. Arnulfo Go (Kampi-PTM); Manila Rep. Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David (Kampi); Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas (LP-Ugyon); Parañaque Rep. Eduardo Zialcita (Lakas-CMD); Quezon City Rep. Bingbong Crisologo (NP); Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin (Lakas-CMD); Batangas Rep. Victoria Reyes (Lakas-CMD); Agusan del Norte Rep. Jose Aquino II (Lakas-CMD); Iloilo Rep. Arthur Defensor (Lakas-CMD); Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Maranon III (Kampi) for Rep. Ma. Amelita Villarosa; Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong (Lakas-CMD); Cebu City Rep. Raul del Mar (Lakas-BOPK); Bukidnon Rep. Candido Pacrudo Jr. (Lakas-CMD) for Rep. Eric Singson; and Manila Rep. Maria Zenaida Angping (NPC).

Those who voted to declare the complaint sufficient in substance were Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) Rep. Liza Largoza-Maza, Bukidnon Rep. Teofisto Guingona III, Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño (NP-UNO), Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (PMP-UNO), Makati City Rep. Marlen Abigail Binay (UNO/PDP-Laban), South Cotabato Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custidio (NPC-AIM), Ocampo, and Zamora.

“Although we were given a chance to recite our facts and present additional information to back up the charges, one point we objected against is the position of the majority that the charges related to the NBN and NorthRail deals, the ‘Garci’ tapes, the fertilizer scam, the extrajudicial killings and others are rehashed and should no longer be considered because these were included in previously dismissed complaints,” Ocampo said. “Our contention is that there was never any chance to study the merits of the earlier complaints, which were dismissed on the basis of technicalities.”

“Neither did they listen to our demands that those congressmen who received ‘cash gifts’ from Malacañang last year or who were involved in the fertilizer scam be disqualified from voting or should inhibit themselves,” Ocampo added. “The chairman of the Justice Committee said he was not qualified to rule on the motion, and none of those congressmen volunteered to inhibit themselves.”

The Philippines has seen the yearly filing of impeachment complaints against Arroyo since 2005. The grounds had covered almost all impeachable offenses: bribery, graft and corruption, betrayal of public trust, and culpable violation of the Constitution.

These complaints, however, were invariably thrown out by the administration-dominated House of Representatives due to sheer technicalities.

During the hearings of the Committee on Justice, the majority members repeatedly argued that there was no evidence in the impeachment complaint that directly linked Arroyo to the alleged impeachable offenses.

“The matter of evidence should be taken up during the stage where the President is to be asked for a response to the charges,” Ocampo however said.

Zamora, a bar topnotcher, agreed. “At this stage, what is needed is not evidence, but a recital of facts,” he said.

Ocampo said the only remaining hope for the complainants and their allies at the House of Representatives is for the Justice Committee’s report to be rejected at the plenary level this coming Dec. 2 by the constitutionally required 1/3 vote.

Zamora, however, is not very optimistic about this prospect. “Only a miracle remains to be hoped for,” he said. (Bulatlat.com)

HOUSE PANEL: De Venecia complaint sufficient in form

November 18, 2008

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 07:43:00 11/18/2008

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 4) Members of the justice committee of the House of Representatives have unanimously decided that the impeachment complaint filed by the group of Jose de Venecia III was sufficient in form.

As of posting time, lawmakers are deliberating on what to do with the three other impeachment cases, including the intervention that was filed by the group, led by Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist, INQUIRER.net blogger, and television host Manolo Quezon III that sought to add the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to the list of offenses committed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The Supreme Court had declared the MOA-AD unconstitutional.

Quezon City Representative Matias Defensor, chairman of the justice committee, had raised the “prejudicial questions” that must be considered before determining whether the complaint would be sufficient in form and in substance would be:

• Which complaint/ complaints must be considered?
• Is the complaint in intervention allowed by the Constitution, the Rules on Impeachment or the Rules on Criminal Procedure in its suppletory character?
• Is the chairman on the committee on justice correct in returning the Lozano complaint based on the precedent as approved by the committee on justice in the case of the Tamano/ Pulido complaint?

The four complaints submitted before the committee were from:
• Jose de Venecia III, et. al. submitted on October 13;
• Attorney Guillermo Sotto submitted October 23;
• Manuel Quezon III et al submitted on November 12; and
• Lawyer Oliver Lozano submitted directly to the committee on justice and received by the committee secretary on November 17.

But even before the complaints could be deliberated on, Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Teodoro Casiño has asked that his colleagues who have been linked to the alleged bribery attempt by Malacañang last year should inhibit themselves.

Meanwhile, Parañaque Representative Roilo Golez questioned the marathon hearings and appealed for a “more reasonable calendar” so that they could also attend other hearings.

“It’s very hard to distribute our bodies among these committee hearings…We are not allowing ourselves enough time to prepare for other hearings, for example after this, we will have the fertilizer scam hearing,” Golez said.

“This is something we should approach with a lot of circumspection,” Golez said, adding that the fourth impeachment complaint is the most serious one against the President.

Congressman Defensor said the marathon hearings were “not unusual.”

In his opening statement, the justice committee chairman said that “we cannot prolong the process.”

“Let the ax fall if it has to fall. Time is not in our favor, otherwise, we might just succeed to impeach a President who is no longer in Office or has only a few months, weeks, or days left in office,” Defensor said in his opening statement.

Defensor said the House has 83 session days to pass upon the validity of the impeachment complaint, assuming that it would pass the test of form and substance.

The justice committee has scheduled marathon hearings for the impeachment complaint from Tuesday to Friday, starting at 9:30 a.m.

Aside from Casiño, other endorsers of the impeachment complaint who were present were former speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza of Gabriela, and Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis.

De Venecia’s son, Jose “Joey” De Venecia III, filed the impeachment complaint together with civil society groups and representatives of human rights organizations.

The endorsers have appealed to majority members in the House to allow the complaint to reach the impeachment trial stage to shed light on allegations against the President.

House tackles impeach complaint

November 17, 2008

By Jomar Canlas, Reporter

The House Committee on Justice would start Tuesday morning its four-day hearing on the impeachment complaint lodged against President Gloria Arroyo.

Only from five out of 29 opposition lawmakers and former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. of Pangasinan endorsed the complaint.

According to House Speaker Prospero Nograles Jr., it is the Constitutional duty of the House of Representatives to expedite the proceedings on the impeachment complaint. Likewise, the House has other important matters to tackle.

“There are other legislative concerns that we will tackle with great national importance to counter the negative impacts of the worldwide crisis,” he said.

Rep. Eduardo Zialcita of Para­ñaque, an ally of the Arroyo administration, believes the impeachment case against President Arroyo is weak because it is nothing more than a rehash of the previous impeachment complaints that all failed.

Rep. Mauricio Domogan of Baguio City, vice chairman of the House justice committee, argued that the success of the impeachment complaint would appear to be dependent on the endorsement made the six House members.

“As of this moment, we can safely say that more or less, 80 percent of the strength of the impeachment complaint lies alone from the five endorsers from the opposition and also former Speaker de Venecia, although we have to still see the developments during the hearing,” Domogan said.

Domogan said the impeachment issue is all about numbers and what matters is how many signatures the impeachment complaint gets.

House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora said the opposition bloc is supporting the impeachment complaint but pointed out their endorsement is not needed for the process to proceed.

“We have agreed already that we are going to support it and we will show this when we get to the Committee on Justice and when we vote in the plenary. I don’t know why everybody is focusing on the number of those endorsing the complaint,” the minority floor leader said.

The opposition legislators who signed the complaint were Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teodoro “Teddy” Casiño of Bayan Muna, Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis, Liza Maza of Gabriela and Rep. Teofisto Guingona 3rd of Bukidnon.(ManilaTimes)

All-out war for Arroyo, De Venecia

October 26, 2008

By Leila Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:53:00 10/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Former Speaker Jose de Venecia has abandoned his initial stand and decided to endorse the latest impeachment complaint against President Macapagal-Arroyo, his former friend and ally.

At a press conference held Saturday in his Makati home, De Venecia announced that he would testify in the impeachment hearings at the House of Representatives and spare no one in revealing the truth.

The Pangasinan lawmaker also said his endorsement of the complaint, filed by his son Jose “Joey” de Venecia III and several others, was without reservation and in line with his call for moral revolution. (He had earlier said he would not endorse the complaint out of delicadeza, or propriety, in light of his son’s involvement.)

“This fight is not my son’s fight alone; the complainants represent a wide segment of national society. Their fight is part of the nation’s search for truth and justice. And we must restore to public office the virtues of openness, accountability, integrity and good governance—all of which the Arroyo administration vhas cast aside,” De Venecia said, reading from a prepared statement.

But in Beijing, where she is attending the 7th Asia-Europe Meeting, the President does not appear to be taking notice.

According to Press Secretary Jesus Dureza, the issue is “under the radar” of Ms Arroyo, especially now that she is helping find solutions to the global financial crisis.

“Let’s leave them to their own antics,” Dureza told reporters at a briefing, referring to the group that had filed the fourth impeachment complaint against Ms Arroyo.

He said that with Ms Arroyo nearing the homestretch of her term, she was more concerned with “preparing the country so that when the next president comes, it will be in good shape.”

‘No matter who gets hurt’

De Venecia said he would not hesitate to answer questions about the deals that the Arroyo administration had forged, including the scuttled $329-million National Broadband Network (NBN) deal with China’s ZTE Corp. and the Northrail project, in which he is implicated.

“I am prepared to testify at the witness stand if called by the House. I will answer all questions no matter who gets hurt,” he said.

De Venecia said the impeachment complaint would also serve a good purpose—to delay purported attempts to amend the Constitution to extend Ms Arroyo’s stay in power.

He said his earlier push for Charter change had stemmed from a noble and pure purpose, but “the motive now may not be so pure.”

De Venecia called on his fellow lawmakers to vote on the impeachment case on its merits and not on party affiliations. But he said he did not want to campaign to them to support the complaint because it was their duty to listen to their conscience.

He added that it was too early to declare the death of the complaint, and dismissed comments that it would not fly because 2010 was just around the corner.

“One week is a long time in politics, according to Winston Churchill,” he said.

The new complaint accuses Ms Arroyo of betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the Constitution, bribery, graft and corruption, and other high crimes.

Minority lawmakers have endorsed it but conceded that they lacked the 80 votes needed to get it through the administration-dominated House.

Role model

Joey de Venecia said he hoped that his father would serve as a role model for other lawmakers so that they would be convinced of the need to support the impeachment complaint.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño, an endorser of the complaint, said De Venecia’s change of heart would help sway other lawmakers to back it.

But the President’s allies belittled the former Speaker’s stand.

“Truthfully, I think that the anti- and pro-impeachment ‘numbers’ have not changed in the House despite the JDV endorsement and support,” Speaker Prospero Nograles said in a text message.

He said he was able to assess the majority sentiment—that the impeachment complaint was ill-timed—from consultations with party leaders.

In a separate statement, Nograles called on the House committee on justice to act “swiftly and judiciously” on the complaint so that lawmakers could focus on the economy.

Rep. Abraham Mitra said De Venecia’s endorsement was “lightweight” because his friends in the House were more loyal to Ms Arroyo.

Mitra also said De Venecia was not a credible endorser because it was apparent that his action was for the benefit of his son, and not the country.

Rep. Rodito Albano likewise said De Venecia’s vote was immaterial, and accused the latter of just wanting to get back at the administration for unseating him from the speakership.

National interest

De Venecia said he had decided to endorse the complaint because he could not abandon the national interest and ignore the gravity of Ms Arroyo’s purported sins.

“For me not to endorse such grave allegations—and to prevent them from being heard by a competent political court—would in itself constitute a crime against the Filipino people,” he said.

He also said that after he announced his initial stand, leaders of the Catholic Church and of civil society tried to persuade him to change his mind.

Among these leaders were Archbishop Oscar Cruz, Eddie Villanueva of the Jesus is Lord Movement and retired general Fortunato Abat, he said.

Asked what he thought were the tactics that the administration would use to kill the impeachment complaint, De Venecia cited former President Joseph Estrada’s purported claim that Malacañang could make money flow in the House.

But he refused to comment when asked if he agreed with Estrada.

De Venecia also railed at fresh attempts to persecute him and his son, which he said had reached “ridiculous heights.”

He said the justice department had recommended that his son be criminally charged for the scuttled NBN deal even though it was the latter who had pointed out the purported irregularities surrounding the project.

He lamented that the President’s husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, and former Commission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos were spared despite being “most prominently connected to the NBN scandal.”

“By prosecuting and persecuting the innocent and protecting the guilty, the Arroyo administration has made a mockery of the justice system and forfeited the popular trust,” De Venecia said.

Sheer numbers

Dureza admitted that Ms Arroyo would have to deal with the legal process of impeachment no matter how frequently such a complaint had been filed against her.

But Malacañang is leaving it to Congress to decide on the fate of the new complaint, he said.

Given the present composition of the House, which will decide if the case is to be transmitted to the Senate, Ms Arroyo can afford to be optimistic, even confident.

Her allies comprise the majority of the 238-member House, as was the case when the three previous complaints were all crushed by the sheer strength of numbers.

Gabriel Claudio, Ms Arroyo’s adviser on political affairs, voiced the Palace’s stance in a text message:

“JDV or no JDV, the administration is confident of being able to defend itself and the President from any issue raised in the impeachment complaint.”

Claudio said De Venecia’s announcement did not come as a surprise.

“I guess he has to do what he has to do. After all, Joey is his son,” Claudio said.

He reiterated that the complaint would not prosper. “[Its] chances of success as well as the utter inappropriateness and destructiveness of its timing in light of the current global economic tempest remain the same,” he said. With reports from Christian V. Esguerra in Beijing and TJ Burgonio in Manila

(Photos) The 4th Impechment Vs Philippine President Gloria Arroyo

October 24, 2008

Filing of the 4th Impeachment Complaint

against Pres. Macapagal-Arroyo

Batasan

The fourth impeachment complaint against Pres. Macapagal-Arroyo was filed at 7:40 am today, Oct. 13,  and was received by Dr. Ricardo Roque, OIC of the House Secretary General fffice.

Posted here are the Summary of the Impeachment Complaint against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the Final 97-page complaint that House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino and Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza endorsed.

The complaint, including annexes is more than 1000 pages.

<!– @page { size: 21cm 29.7cm; margin: 2cm } P { margin-bottom: 0.21cm } –>

NEWS RELEASE
October 14, 2008

Anakpawis on the impeachment case: “Let it be on official record, but more importantly on the collective memory of our people.”

THE ANAKPAWIS party list knew that the case is more than just a numbers game.

“It may not prosper as a formal proceeding, but it has been put on official record. Moreover, it will be etched in the collective memory of our people. War crimes have always been paid for after the war is long over,” Anakpawis secretary-general Cherry Clemente said.

The complaint’s main causes of actions against Macapagal-Arroyo include human rights violations, graft, bribery and betrayal of public trust.

Anakpawis was specifically cited in the following cases:

Extrajudicial killing of Agnes Abelon and her 5 year old son Amante Abelon, Jr. and the Frustrated Killing of Amante Abelon, Sr.

Amante Abelon, Sr. and his wife are active members of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Farmers’ Movement in the Philippines) and the progressive party-list organization Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) in Zambales, an area within the jurisdiction of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army then under the command of General Jovito Palparan.

Extrajudicial killing of Diosdado Fortuna

Diosdado Fortuna or “Ka Fort” was the chairperson of PAMANTIK-KMU, the regional formation of trade unions based in Southern Tagalog; and the chairperson of Anakpawis Party-list in the same region.

Attacks on Progressive Party-List Organizations

Since 2001, one hundred and twenty-eight (128) members and leaders of Bayan Muna have been summarily killed. Since 2004, thirty-two (32) Anakpawis, two (2) Suara, and one (1) Gabriela party list members and leaders were killed. A still undetermined but considerable number have survived assassination attempts, while fourteen (14) party list members and leaders have forcibly disappeared.

Proclamation No. 1017

On February 25, 2006, Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran was arrested in Del Monte City, Bulacan by an armed team of PNP-Criminal and Investigation Group (CIDG) operatives led by a certain Police Chief Inspector Rino Corpuz. The arrest was made without a warrant of arrest in violation of his constitutional rights, and while the Congress was in regular session in contravention of his parliamentary immunity. He was later charged with inciting to sedition and rebellion and was held under custody of the PNP for more than a year.

Bribery

In the morning of 5 October 2007, the day the impeachment complaint of Robert Pulido was filed, respondent, through her agent, Atty. Francis Ver, approached and offered former Rep. Crispin Beltran of the ANAKPAWIS party list, bribe money in the amount of One Million Pesos (P 1,000,000) for the puspose of endorsing a yet to be filed impeachment complaint. The endorsement of Rep. Beltran would supposedly add “legitimacy” to the Pulido complaint. ###

BAYAN MUNA

Arkibong Bayan

October 13, 2008

2008 Impeachment Complaint vs PGMA (Full Text)

October 13, 2008

Please click this to read.

SENATE MINORITY LEADER Impeaching Arroyo a ‘pipe dream’

October 13, 2008

By Maila Ager
INQUIRER.net
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.

Speaker: Impeachment is a ‘numbers game’

October 13, 2008

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:49:00 10/13/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Allies of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo sent a clear signal on Monday that they will use their overwhelming numbers in the House of Representatives to scrap the fourth impeachment complaint against the chief executive.

“This [impeachment] is a political exercise and we will deal with it head-on. At the end of the day it will be a numbers game,” Speaker Prospero Nograles said in a text message from Switzerland, where he is attending the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Nograles said even members of the minority acknowledge difficulty getting the required one-third vote, or 74 of the 240-member chamber, to get the complaint going.

House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora admitted as much in a radio interview earlier in the day.

“Right now, up to this point, I will tell you honestly, I see no reaction from the other congressmen aside from those in the minority. We are not that many [but] we hope the others [members of the House] will see the 97-page complaint and read the evidence,” Zamora said.

Nograles said since impeachment is “largely a partisan issue,” House members would take a stand according to their leanings.

He called the impeachment complaint “ill-timed” and slammed those who filed the case for “preaching the gospel of instability” in the face of the global financial crisis.

In a separate interview, House justice committee chairman Matias Defensor said his committee will look at the complaint “squarely” but pointed out that any move to impeach the President always disrupts the normal function of the chamber and the government.

Deputy minority leader Roilo Golez said they have no position yet on the complaint but vowed to discuss it with members of the opposition.

Bayan Muna (People First) party list Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño said the latest impeachment complaint, unlike those filed before, is “very strong” and urged members of the House to take a close look at the issues and evidence.

Ocampo also said they are giving former speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. time to go over the complaint, filed by his son Jose III, and civil society and militant groups.

The elder De Venecia has yet to endorse the complaint.

“What is important is for him to convince members of the majority to support the complaint once it is taken up by the justice committee,” Ocampo said.

Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplico, one of the signatories to the complaint, said the public would be watching if former speaker, who used to be president of the ruling Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, is now a “one-man army” who will have to influence others to support the impeachment, or “has an army with silent supporters.”

Suplico said the fact that Arroyo has barely two years in office and is now considered a “lame duck president” could make a difference on how House members stand on the impeachment.

“I think each and every congressman recognizes the fact that she is on her way out as president, therefore that will embolden members of the House to stand on principles and rely on their reading of the impeachment complaint whether or not it contains the necessary documents to sustain impeaching the president,” he said.

Arroyo impeach rap filed at House : Replay of movie that never took off

October 13, 2008

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 07:43:00 10/13/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 6) Beating the filing of what they call sham impeachment complaints, anti-Arroyo critics have filed another, the fourth one seeking the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The case was filed at 7:40 a.m. Monday before director Ricardo Roque, the officer-in-charge at the Secretary General’s office at the House of Representatives, although the complainants were at the House as early as 6 a.m.

Present were Joey de Venecia III, son of former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., Iloilo vice governor Rolex Suplico, Josefina Lichauco, former official of the Department of Transportation and Communication; lawyer Harry Roque; and representatives from civil society — Renato Constantino, Jr., Henri Kahn, Francisco Alcuaz, Rez Cortez, Virgilio Eustaquio, Jose Luis Alcuaz, Leah Navarro, Danilo Ramos, Concepcion Empeño, Elmer Labog, Armando Albarillo, Roneo Clamor, and Bebu Bulchand.

De Venecia III and other complainants tried but failed to file the 97-page impeachment complaint late Saturday at the House because its secretary-general, Marilyn Yap, who receives such complaints, had gone on a foreign trip.

The law allows only one impeachment bid each year against the president and the previous one-year period lapsed last weekend, De Venecia said.

Unlike last year’s two-page impeachment case by lawyer Roel Pulido, the complaint filed Monday was “strong” and “would be able to hold its own based on merits and evidence,” De Venecia III.

The complainants raised the national broadband network agreement with China, human rights violations, the Northrail project, the Mt. Diwalwal project, fertilizer fund scam, alleged bribery of members of the House, the swine scam under the Rural Credit Guarantee Corporation, and electoral fraud in the 2004 election as among the impeachable offenses committed by Arroyo.

They decided to withdraw however the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) from the list amid objections by some lawmakers.

Lawyer Roque said that most of the corruption charges made against the President were backed by conclusive reports from the Commission on Audit while the allegations of human rights violations were supported by an investigation report by the United Nations special rapporteur Philip Alston.

“This impeachment complaint in the House is the real deal unlike the first three, the House members have no choice but to look, accept it or reject it, based on merits rather than technicalities as they did in the past years,” said Roque.

Bayan Muna partylist Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño and Gabriela Representative Liza Maza endorsed the complaint.

Former Speaker De Venecia Jr. did not endorse the case, which his son said he would discuss with him and ask him to back it.

In the document, the complainants said they wanted to impeach and bring to trial Arroyo “for her [alleged] betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the Constitution, bribery, graft and corruption and other high crimes.”

Suplico, one of the officials who exposed the alleged irregularities in the NBN contract with China’s ZTE Corp., said it was time for the President to be held accountable for the anomalies in her government.

“This is a simple message to the President, you cannot kill, you cannot steal and get away with it,” he said.

De Venecia III, a key witness in the scandal, said congressmen should go through the complaint carefully to see that there was strong evidence to impeach the President.

He dismissed speculations that the move was politically-motivated amid his alleged plans to run for senator in 2010.

“Parang nagiging fortune-teller ang mga nasa Malacañang [People from Malacañang are becoming fortune-tellers]. They’re saying there would be an election in 2010, I don’t think there will be an election in 2010. There’s nothing political about this,” he said.

De Venecia III added that it was not too late to initiate the impeachment move against the President, adding that in her remaining 18 to 19 months in office, “a lot of anomalies can still happen.”

In a summary of complaint prepared by Bayan Muna, it said Arroyo committed impeachable offense based on the following:

• betrayal of public trust and bribery when she abetted and/or tolerated the commission of crime on the ZTE contract, willfully obstructed, impeded or delayed the apprehension of suspects and the investigation of criminal cases arising from the same, and participating and giving support to or approving the contract despite her knowledge that the same is tainted with graft and corruption;
There were also allegations that Arroyo’s husband was promised a huge commission to back the agreement, which the President scrapped last year. Her husband denied the allegations and ZTE has denied bribing any official.

• culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and other high crimes by explicitly and implicitly conspiring, directing, abetting, and tolerating with impunity as a state policy extrajudicial executions, involuntary disappearances, torture, massacre, illegal arrests and arbitrary detention, forced dislocation of communities and other gross and systematic violation of civil and political rights and engaging in a systematic campaign to cover up or whitewash these crimes by suppressing and obliterating the evidence, blaming the victims, terrorizing and intimidating and physically attacking witnesses, their relatives, lawyers, and supporters, and human rights workers.

• culpable violation of the Constitution by entering into the overpriced Northrail project without the approval of the monetary board and without giving preference to Filipino labor and investment;

• betrayal of public trust by selling the country’s gold reserve in Mt. Diwalwal to China’s already controversial ZTE Corp. under the terms of agreement that are grossly disadvantageous to the country’s interests.

• bribery when she bribed members of Congress to dismiss the genuine impeachment complaint last year in favor of the “sham” Pulido complaint

• graft and corruption by allowing the improper use of at least P5 billion in loans obtained by the Rural Credit Guarantee Corporation (QUEDANCOR) to fund her administration’s 2004 electoral campaign, and by profiting from the fertilizer fund scam.

• betrayal of public trust by tampering with the results of the 2004 election.

The complainants also pointed to the “rising dissatisfaction rating” against Arroyo as a reflection that “the public believes that she had betrayed their trust.” Citing the first quarter survey of the Social Weather Stations, the complainants said it was only during Arroyo’s time that there was negative satisfaction rating, “or an overall negative feeling against a sitting President.”

After the complaint is filed at the Office of the House Secretary General, the Secretary General then transmits it to the Office of the Speaker.

Under House rules, the Speaker has 10 session days to forward it to the rules committee to schedule for plenary.

Since Congress is on recess, Roque said the chamber could act on it only when session would resume on November 10.

From the floor, the complaint will be referred to the House justice committee, which has 60 session days to determine whether the case is sufficient in form and substance.

After the determination of form and substance, the committee report will be submitted on the floor for either adoption or rejection.

The complaint will only reach the Senate for trial if it gets the vote of one-third of the total membership of the House.

Presidential spokesman Anthony Golez said the complaint contained recycled allegations that had no chance of success, and accused the complainants of being self-serving when the country needed to brace against impacts of the global financial crisis.

“It’s like replaying a movie that never took off,” Golez said.

Meanwhile, Cerge Remonde, head of the Presidential Management Staff, refused to answer allegations by Suplico that “Christmas will be early” for allies of the President, referring to possible bribes in exchange for the dismissal of the complaint.

“No Comment. Palace will focus on confronting global economic crisis,” said Remonde in a message.

But Trade Secretary Peter Favila, a member of Arroyo’s economic team, said some businessmen have expressed apprehension upon hearing reports of the impeachment.

“The business community some…called me yesterday [and they said] it’s a pity that during these times when the whole world is focused on what we need to do, here in RP we’re still bogged down by politics,” said Favila.

Arroyo has survived three opposition impeachment bids, which were dismissed on technicalities by her dominant House allies. At least one-third of the 240-member House would have to back a complaint to impeach Arroyo and send it to the opposition-dominated Senate for trial.

But the opposition controls only 28 House seats.

“If you look at the numbers, it’s really an uphill battle,” said Congressman Casiño, who backed past impeachment attempts. “But it’s not just a complaint, it’s a political statement, an exercise of our right to stand up against official wrongdoing.”

Arroyo, who was swept to power in 2001 after then-President Joseph Estrada was ousted by a non-violent “people power” revolt, has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing in office. She won a six-year term in a regular presidential election in 2004.

With reports from Thea Alberto, INQUIRER.net; Gil Cabacungan, Inquirer; Associated Press

SUMMARY OF IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT (2008)

October 13, 2008

SUMMARY OF IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT (2008)

Prepared by Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares

Bayan Muna General Counsel

The impeachment complaint that will be filed is in accordance with Art. XI section 2 and 3 of the Constitution. It is a verified Complaint, in the name of the Filipino people and for the Filipino people, to impeach and bring to trial Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for her betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the Constitution, bribery, graft and corruption and other high crimes.

The Complainants are:

Jose De Venecia III, Editha Burgos, Erlinda Cadapan, Rolex Suplico, Josefina Lichauco, Harry Roque, Renato Constantino, Jr., Henri Kahn, Francisco Alcuaz, Rez Cortez, Virgilio Eustaquio, Jose Luis Alcuaz, Leah Navarro, Danilo Ramos, Concepcion Empeño, Elmer Labog, Armando Albarillo, Roneo Clamor, and Bebu Bulchand

The complaint’s main causes of actions are:

I. NBN-ZTE

RESPONDENT COMMITTED BETRAYAL OF PUBLIC TRUST AND BRIBERY WHEN SHE (i) ABETTED AND/OR TOLERATED THE COMMISSION OF A CRIME IN REGARD TO THE ANOMALOUS “ZTE NATIONAL BROADBAND CONTRACT”, (ii) KNOWINGLY AND WILLFULLY OBSTRUCTED, IMPEDED OR DELAYED THE APPREHENSION OF SUSPECTS AND THE INVESTIGATION OF CRIMINAL CASES ARISING FROM THE SAME, AND (iii) PARTICIPATING AND GIVING SUPPORT TO OR APPROVING THE NBN-ZTE BROADBAND CONTRACT DESPITE HER KNOWLEDGE THAT THE SAME IS TAINTED WITH GRAFT AND CORRUPTION.

II. HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

RESPONDENT COMMITTED CULPABLE VIOLATIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION, BETRAYAL OF PUBLIC TRUST AND OTHER HIGH CRIMES BY EXPLICITLY AND IMPLICITLY CONSPIRING, DIRECTING, ABETTING, AND TOLERATING WITH IMPUNITY AS A STATE POLICY, EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS, INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCES, TORTURE, MASSACRE, ILLEGAL ARREST AND ARBITRARY DETENTION, FORCED DISLOCATION OF COMMUNITIES AND OTHER GROSS AND SYSTEMATIC VIOLATIONS OF CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS AND ENGAGING IN A SYSTEMATIC CAMPAIGN TO COVER-UP OR WHITEWASH THESE CRIMES BY SUPPRESSING AND OBLITERATING THE EVIDENCE, BLAMING THE VICTIMS, TERRORIZING, INTIMIDATING AND PHYSICALLY ATTACKING WITNESSES, THEIR RELATIVES, LAWYERS AND SUPPORTERS, AND HUMAN RIGHTS WORKERS.

III. NORTHRAIL

RESPONDENT COMMITTED CULPABLE VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION BY ENTERING INTO THE NORTHRAIL PROJECT WITHOUT THE REQUISITE APPROVAL OF THE MONETARY BOARD AND WITHOUT GIVING PREFERENCE TO FILIPINO LABOR AND INVESTMENT.

RESPONDENT, BY APPROVING THE OVERPRICED NORTHRAIL PROJECT, VIOLATED SECTION 3 (G) OF RA 3019.

IV. THE MT. DIWALWAL PROJECT

RESPONDENT BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST BY SELLING THE COUNTRY’S GOLD RESERVES IN MT. DIWALWAL TO THE ALREADY CONTROVERSIAL ZTE CORPORATION UNDER THE TERMS OF AN AGREEMENT THAT ARE GROSSLY DISADVANTAGEOUS TO THE COUNTRY’S INTERESTS.

V. FERTILIZER SCAM CONSTITUTIVE OF GRAFT AND CORRUPTION

RESPONDENT COMMITTED GRAFT AND CORRUPTION, BY PROFITING FROM THE FERTILIZER SCAM, VIOLATED SECTION 3 (B) OF RA 3019.

VI. BRIBERY OF MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

RESPONDENT COMMITTED BRIBERY WHEN SHE AUTHORIZED THE DISTRIBUTION OF BRIBE MONEY TO MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN EXCHANGE FOR THE HASTY REFERRAL OF THE PULIDO IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT TO PREVENT THE FILING OF GENUINE IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT.

VII. ELECTORAL FRAUD IN 2004 CONSITUTIVE OF BETRAYAL OF PUBLIC TRUST AND GRAFT AND CORRUPTION

RESPONDENT BETRAYED PUBLIC TRUST BY TAMPERING WITH THE RESULTS OF THE 2004 ELECTIONS.

RESPONDENT COMMITTED GRAFT AND CORRUPTION, THROUGH HER INVOLVEMENT IN THE “HELLO GARCI” SCANDAL, VIOLATED SECTION 3 (A) OF RA 3019.

FOR THE NBN-ZTE DEAL

There were many irregularities in the NBN ZTE transaction. Among the irregularities was the lack of proper bidding procedures before awarding the contract to ZTE. The acts of the DOTC in awarding the contract to ZTE, without competitive bidding and in blatant violation of the law on procurement, was the act of respondent Arroyo. The President not only failed to implement the law, she, more importantly, violated the law which she was tasked to do.

All the elements of the crime of direct bribery, through the second mode—i.e., where the gift is received in consideration of an act which does not constitute a crime—are present in the transaction, to wit:

a) Respondent is the President of the Republic of the Philippines;

b) Respondent accepted the promise of bribe money from ZTE officials, as Chairman Abalos told the ZTE officials that the President is waiting for the money promised to them;

c) Respondent accepted promise of bribe money so that the ZTE-NBN deal, which is clearly overpriced, will push through;

d) The approval of the ZTE-NBN deal is connected to the performance of her official duties since she was the approving authority to the contract.

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

Pres. Gloria Arroyo’s culpability and responsibility for the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other human rights violations, through her state security forces including the AFP and the PNP are clearly established. It is well to stress that the political killings and disappearances are concentrated in Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Ilocos and the Cordillera – places that have been identified in Oplan Bantay Laya as “priority areas” and where “counter-insurgency” military operations are most intense and sustained. Several victims have survived their ordeal and lived to tell the horrors of state terrorism against its very own people.

The evidences in the disappearances of Jonas Burgos, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño point to the AFP as responsible for the said disappearances. Even the Court of Appeals has declared that the AFP took into custody Sherlyn and Karen and ordered the Philippine Army to surface both students. In the case of the abduction of the Manalo Brothers, the Supreme Court itself has affirmed the responsibility of the AFP in the abduction and torture of Reynaldo and Raymond Manalo.

That the killings and disappearances form part of a policy under Pres. Arroyo’’s counter insurgency program has been confirmed by UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston who declared that “One response has been counter-insurgency operations that result in the extrajudicial execution of leftist activists. In some areas, the leaders of leftist organizations are systematically hunted down by interrogating and torturing those who may know their whereabouts, and they are often killed following a campaign of individual vilification designed to instill fear into the community”

The attacks on communities, various sectors such as the media, church people, and party list groups, and many other heinous human rights violations are not only criminal acts but also acts intended to preserve Pres. Arroyo’s stay in power and an abuse of her powers as president and therefore a ground for her impeachment.

In the case of Pastor Berlin Guerrero, the Court of Appeals quoted the Supreme Court which chastised the Department of Justice for prostituting the office of the prosecutor for the abuse of procedures to harass political opponents of the president. Prof. Alston on the other hand while dismayed at the enthusiasm of the executive in filing cases against dissenters, bewailed the lack of investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators of extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances.

Pres. Arroyo also violated human rights through the implementation other policies such as the Calibrated Preemptive Response, Proclamation 1017 imposing emergency rule in the country, and EO 464.

NORTHRAIL PROJECT

Respondent committed culpable violation of the Constitution by entering into the Northrail project without the requisite approval of the Monetary Board and without giving preference to Filipino labor and investment.

During negotiations and after the contract was signed, allegations of overpricing and questions on the feasibility of relocating 40,000 residents started to hound the project.

According to reports, the North rail reconstruction costs US$15 million per kilometer, more expensive than the ground-breaking 2,000-km Qinghai to Tibet system, which only cost US$3.6 billion, or US$1.8 million per kilometer. A substantial part of the initial down payment allegedly went to kickbacks and payoffs. Since 2004, the Philippine government has reportedly paid out P1.4 billion for the project that has yet to commence, with interest payments amounting to a massive P1 million a day.

It was said that the amount of $125.75 million (P6.5 billion) has already been advanced out of the $503-million funding, and yet the project, scheduled to be completed in May this year, appears to be heading nowhere. The loan was allegedly contracted without the approval of the Monetary Board as required by Section 20, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution.

Under the agreement, the China National Machinery and Equipment Corporation Group (CNMEG), a Chinese corporation, was designated as the prime contractor of the project. This designation was made without providing qualified Filipino contractors and corporations the opportunity to bid for the project.

Moreover, the contract was entered into in violation of Sections 10 and 12 of Article XII of the Constitution[1] which gives preference to Filipino labor and investment.

The contract did not even go through competitive public bidding, which not only prejudiced the rights of qualified Filipino contractors and corporations, but blatantly violated the provisions of the Procurement Reform Act. While admittedly, there are exceptions where competitive public bidding may be dispensed with, these exceptions do not apply in the selection of CNMEG as a contractor.

Furthermore, by approving the overpriced Northrail Project, Pres. Arroyo violated Section 3 (g) of RA 3019.By giving the Northrail project to the Export-Import Bank of China, respondent not only committed culpable violation of the Constitution, but also violated Section 3 (g) of RA 3019, which provides:

(g) Entering, on behalf of the government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.

The said project is manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government for the following reasons:

a. It is grossly overpriced;

b. It is based on a grossly inflated estimate of the project cost in the amount of US$ 503,000,000, for a 32.2 kilometer length of rail line, or an average of nearly US$ 16 million (P900 million) per kilometre, exclusive of the costs for clearing, relocation, and resettlement of informal dwellers occupying the railroad Right of Way;

c. It provides for an interest rate of three percent (3%) per annum on the amount of the loan, which is much higher than the rate on other loan packages the Republic of the Philippines could have availed of;

d. It provides that the Agreement will be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the People’s Republic of China, and that any suit, legal action or proceeding arising from the agreement may be brought before the courts of that country, without prejudice to the Export-Import Bank of China commencing any action, at its option, against the Republic of the Philippines or its property in any other jurisdiction. Such one-sided concession unduly favors the Export-Import Bank of China and is extremely onerous to the Republic of the Philippines.

e. Article 5 of the agreement provides that control over the proceeds of the loan is not placed with the Republic of the Philippines but is retained by the Export-Import Bank of China. This prevents the funds from becoming part of the National Treasury in contravention of the Constitution and applicable laws.

MT. DIWALWAL MINING PROJECT

Respondent betrayed the public trust by selling the country’s gold reserve in Mt. Diwalwal to China’s already controversial ZTE corporation under the terms of an agreement that are grossly disadvantageous to the country’s interests.

Respondent herself signed through her agent, Trade Secretary Peter Favila, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ZTE effectively giving away 90 percent of the country’s gold reserve in Mt. Diwalwal, Compostela Valley. The country stands to lose in the agreement because based on a P200-million study conducted by the Philippine Mining Development Corp., the gold reserve in Mt. Diwalwal is worth at least $1 billion. The government, under the agreement, is only entitled to 10 percent of the find while ZTE, an entity which virtually has no experience in the mining sector, gets the lion share of 90 percent. For this, respondent is likewise liable for graft and corruption.

Moreover, the respondent, through her agent, Sec. Peter Favila, betrayed the public trust when she agreed to a provision in the five-page MOU requiring that the deal should be kept from the Filipino people. [2]

Electoral Fraud, Fertilizer Scam, Bribery in the Sham Pulido complaint

Other than the above, Pres. Arroyo also committed bribery when she bribed members of Congress to dismiss the genuine impeachment complaints in favor of the sham Pulido complaint. She also committed impeachable offenses for her involvement in the fertilizer scam, and electoral fraud in 2004 by tampering with the election results of the presidential election and by her involvement in the Hello Garci scandal.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

Complainants ask that the impeachment complaint be immediately referred to the House Justice Committee so that a genuine processing of the complaint is undertaken, and that the House of Representatives approve the same and therewith draft the Articles of Impeachment so that a trial in the Senate may be undertaken to find out whether indeed Pres. Gloria Arroyo committed the impeachable offenses charged and therefore should be removed from office for the said acts. #


[1] Section 10. The Congress shall, upon recommendation of the economic and planning agency, when the national interest dictates, reserve to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens, or such higher percentage as Congress may prescribe, certain areas of investments. The Congress shall enact measures that will encourage the formation and operation of enterprises whose capital is wholly owned by Filipinos.

Section 12. The State shall promote the preferential use of Filipino labor, domestic materials and locally produced goods, and adopt measures that help make them competitive.

[2] See Gov’t giving away 90% of Mt. Diwalwal gold in ZTE mining deal, at http://news. abs-cbn.com/ nation/09/ 13/08/govt- giving-away- 90-mt-diwalwal- gold-zte- mining-deal <last visited Oct. 10, 2008>.

Arroyo impeach rap filed at House

October 13, 2008

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 07:43:00 10/13/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 2) Beating what they call sham impeachment complaints, anti-Arroyo critics have filed another, the fourth one seeking the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The case was filed at 7:40 a.m. Monday before director Ricardo Roque, the officer-in-charge at the Secretary General’s office at the House of Representatives, although the complainants were at the House as early as 6 a.m.

Present were Joey de Venecia III, son of former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., Iloilo vice governor Rolex Suplico, and groups such as the Kilusang Mayo Uno and Black and White Movement.

The complainants raised the national broadband network agreement with China, the fertilizer scam, and human rights violations as among the impeachable offenses committed by Arroyo.

Bayan Muna partylist Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño and Gabriela Representative Liza Maza endorsed the complaint.

Roque said that Monday’s impeachment case was the first for this year since last year’s complaint by lawyer Roel Pulido lapsed last October 11. (PDI)