CRITICS CONCEDE EARLY DEFEAT OF IMPEACH RAPS VS PRESIDENT

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The first valid impeachment complaint against President Benigno Aquino 3rd filed before the Office of the Secretary General in the House of Representatives on Monday is a “symbolic” action but it will not prosper, retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz said on Monday.

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Cruz, who was among 28 individuals who signed the impeachment complaint, made the pronouncement minutes after his group filed the 80-page complaint that accuses the President of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust over the outlawed Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The DAP was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in a recent unanimous 13-0 vote because it implemented cross-border transfers of unused allocations of the executive department to offices outside the department, including the legislature, among other unlawful practices.

“I support it. It is symbolic. It will not work, but it is a symbolic action. More and more bishops are getting tired of the President. It’s as if the President doesn’t know what is happening,” Cruz told reporters.

“During President [Gloria] Arroyo’s time, we all know that she was the one who was taking the wrong actions. Now, the President is doing things he is made to do by others, like Abad,” the retired archbishop said, referring to Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad, the architect of the DAP.

An impeachment complaint against the President or any other impeachable officer would need to be endorsed by a member of the House of Representatives to be deemed valid.

It is then filed before the Office of the Secretary General before it is subjected to discussions by the House justice committee.

The committee would need to find the impeachment complaint sufficient in form, then sufficient in substance, before it reaches the plenary.

At least one-third of the 294 House members should vote in favor of the impeachment complaint for it to be forwarded to the Senate impeachment court for trial.

The impeachment complaint filed by the retired archbishop’s group was endorsed by Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list and Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis party-list.

The rest of the Makabayan coalition, namely, party-list Representatives Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela and Terry Ridon of Kabataan are also expected to endorse or file or both separate impeachment complaints against the President this week.

Bayan Muna Secretary General Renato Reyes shared Cruz’s sentiments that impeaching President Aquino is a hard sell among the Lower House which is dominated by the President’s allies.

The House Majority bloc is composed of the ruling Liberal Party chaired by the President, the Nacionalista Party, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, the National Unity Party and even Vice President Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance which is a part of the Minority bloc in the Senate.

“We expect it [complaint]to reach the plenary. Our only fear here is that the complaint will be blocked the lawmakers without reading the valid points of our compliant. We call on them to hear us out before they try to block it,” Reyes said in a separate interview.

“We’ll go around communities and schools. The success of the impeachment is not only dependent on the lawmakers. We will talk to our people. The constituents will be the one judging their lawmakers who will choose to protect the thieves,” Reyes added in closing.

The Aquino administration implemented DAP in October 2011 to 2012 to increase government spending for social services and infrastructure, arguing that those disbursements were all made in good faith.

Reyes, however, argued that the Aquino administration cannot escape liability with good faith.

“Tama na ang panahon ng papalusot. Oras na ng pagpapanagot. [The time for excuses is over. It’s time to hold him liable]. DAP is people’s money which served as the pork barrel of the President and the lawmakers.

“What he did is betrayal of our people. We should not let this abuse of power happen,” Reyes added.

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