In daring Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and former senator Joker Arroyo to file impeachment proceedings against him, President Benigno Aquino 3rd knows that he is speaking from a position of strength.
Chances of the president being removed from office at this point are, to use an old phrase, slim and none.
Not only do his allies completely dominate the Senate—which would serve as his judges in the event the House actually impeaches Mr. Aquino – the chances of the lower house letting such a complaint progress are virtually non-existent.
Santiago and Arroyo had claimed that the releases of millions of pesos in public funds to senators after the removal of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona was both illegal and unconstitutional.
Both should know of what they speak. Santiago and Arroyo are both noted legal luminaries. There may, therefore, be strong legal basis for impeaching President Aquino.
But this is easier said than done. Impeaching a president (as well as a chief justice) is not only a legal process, it is also a political process.
The difference between President Aquino and former chief justice Corona is that the former is still popular with the people while the latter never was. Any attempt to remove him would not receive the widespread support that the impeachment of Corona had.
Rightly or wrongly, Corona had been perceived as a midnight appointee to the post of chief justice by an unpopular, lameduck president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The very legitimacy of Corona’s appointment was in doubt.
It is no secret that President Aquino strongly supported the removal of Corona, and this alone made the chances of the chief justice retaining his post highly improbable.
By comparison, there is no massive call for the removal of Mr. Aquino except from a handful of his self-appointed political opponents, none of whom can claim widespread support from the public.
It is possible that some disgruntled parties will go through the motions of filing an impeachment case against Mr. Aquino, and the House leadership may go through the motions of reviewing the case and moving it forward to the proper committee, until it dies a natural death.
This is not to say that President Aquino can never be removed from office via impeachment. He still has three years left in his term, more or less, and while he remains a popular figure, that popularity can fade very quickly if it can be proven that he willingly engaged in serious wrongdoing.
He has committed many mistakes as president to be sure. Allowing suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles to personally surrender to him left a bad taste in the mouth for countless Filipinos. Micromanaging the Zamboanga crisis – a job best left to the Armed Forces of the Phils. – likewise did not speak well of his judgment. He may be commander in chief of the AFP, but he is not an expert in either military tactics or strategies.
To repeat, chances of President Benigno Aquino 3rd being legally removed from office at this time is virtually impossible. If he keeps his nose clean, he can end his presidency in 2016 with head held high. Just like his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino.