MAKABAYAN bloc member Rep. Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) party-list is hopeful that the fourth impeachment complaint they filed on Monday against President Benigno Aquino 3rd will finally nail him and convince everyone that the President indeed committed culpable violation of the Constitution.
Tinio, together with National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera and 14 others, are banking on what they described as hard evidence that include audio recordings about the granting of at least P24 million pork barrel for each lawmaker.
The main players in the purported audio recordings about the release of the outlawed pork barrel were members of House appropriations panel and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chief Patricia Licuanan, Health Undersecretary Janette Garin and several House members.
The meat of the conversations centered on CHED’s scholarship program and the Health department’s Medical Assistance Program.
Based on the recordings, each lawmaker was granted at least P14 million in discretionary funds for scholarships and another P10 million for medical assistance.
The allocations, the complainants noted, are under the safekeeping of CHED, the Health department and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, among others.
“This continued existence of the illegal congressional pork under the direction and license of Aquino, amounts to betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution,” the impeachment complaint said.
“The President is the mastermind behind hidden congressional pork and is forcing the entire bureaucracy of the involved agencies to implement illegal acts,” it added.
“The congressional pork barrel still exists with the agencies still setting aside lump sum money for House members that the latter can disburse according to their discretion” the document continued.
But Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., chairperson of the House Committee on Justice, said the fourth complaint will not be endorsed because the impeachment proceedings already started also on Monday.
“The Speaker has the constitutional duty to refer the three complaints already filed, and the referral of these three marks the start of the impeachment proceeding. The fourth complaint can’t be included because it is already barred by the Constitution, which only allows one impeachment proceeding in a year. The last complaint was only filed today. The impeachment proceeding started with the referral,” Tupas explained.
But retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz is doubtful if any of the complaints will prosper.
Cruz, a signatory to the first impeachment complaint, said the complaints have become merely a symbol of dissatisfaction and anger against the administration of Aquino.
He noted that the House of Representatives and Senate are in the hands of the President, and that the executive can easily control lawmakers.
“It’s clear that the impeachment cases are more symbolic than real because how could an impeachment case prosper in Congress when most of them [lawmakers]are beneficiaries of the Aquino government?” Cruz said.