President Benigno Aquino 3rd has placed his faith in the brute power of numbers in Congress (as herded by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Senate President Franklin Drilon) to defeat any effort to impeach him.
As a journalist and amateur historian, I think he has a lot to fear in “the power of one” to get the cause of impeachment rolling and succeeding in terminating his lawless presidency.
I’m appalled that this great controversy, involving P170 billion of taxpayers’ money and fundamental powers of government, is being shoehorned into a game of counting heads in Congress.
When did we agree to make decency and morality in government depend on a head count? Who was the rascal who authored this radical change in our public life?
How the nation is changing
Aquino should sit up because it’s the power of one, not the surface gloss of a sea of faces, that really brings change in society.
And this is how our nation will change and is changing.
With one superlative Supreme Court decision.
With one member of Congress successfully filing and endorsing an impeachment complaint against the President, and winning the support of colleagues in sufficient numbers.
With one party member or house coalition member bolting the dark side to join the forces of light and right.
With one senator deserting the discredited group that sold out to convict former chief justice Corona.
With two senators (Miriam and Bongbong) who refused to convict Corona declaring that this time they will vote to convict.
With one former congressman and now senator (JV Ejercito) disclosing that he received a P10-million incentive for signing the Corona impeachment complaint, and announcing his plans to return the money. This puts all bribed legislators on the spot.
Contributing to the tidal change is the print media, with the energetic support of bloggers and netizens. Forget about broadcast media, their shallowness has been exposed by the complexity of the DAP decision, and by the need for investigative journalism and serious analysis of the issues and developments.
I’ve never been prouder to be a columnist than at this time in our history, because of the outstanding work of so many peers and colleagues. Day by day their work is testing the ceiling of Philippine journalism.
Power of one in history
Again and again in history, we are reminded that successful movements for social and political change start with the power of one—one man or woman conceiving and bravely raising the banner of the cause.
That was the case with India’s historic march to Freedom—on the back of Mohandas Gandhi’s creed and program of non-violence.
That was the case with the American civil rights movement, which started with one woman, Rosa Parks, refusing to give up her seat in a bus, and which transformed into a nationwide movement in the hands of Martin Luther King, who declared, “I have a dream.”
That was the case with the long fight against apartheid in South Africa, which started with one man, Nelson Mandela, who from the confines of prison for 27 years, founded a new South Africa led by the overwhelming black majority.
The story is true everywhere, replicated in countless stories of change.
And the same, I daresay, will also be the case with the cause of Impeachment of President Aquino, which our current history has made the No.1 item in the national agenda.
SC decision set the stage
The reckoning has started with one Supreme Court decision, which ruled that the Aquino administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is illegal and unconstitutional.
The decision as forecast is now serving as the tipping point for changes that will sweep the nation.
Some justices have become household words because of their memorable words in writing the majority opinion and some concurring opinions.
The decision has intensified the public’s demand for accountability, and the outcry for Aquino and Abad to be held liable.
Impeachment in the House
The power of one will be most dramatically felt in the House, where every vote or signature will count for the impeachment complaint to reach the Senate for trial.
The administration is conducting a loyalty check of House members to ensure that no impeachment complaint will secure the required number of signatures to clear the House.
I urge would-be filers of a complaint to include Alex Magno’s thesis of “economic sabotage” among the articles of impeachment. His column in the Star last Thursday (“Sabotage,” Star, July10) was devastating for the administration and has reduced Lacierda, Coloma and Valte to silence.
Magno’s point is powerful and persuasive. He contends that what Aquino and Abad did in the DAP scheme is nothing less than economic sabotage: To generate the billions for their nefarious program, they embarked on a deliberate policy of underspending, stopped infrastructure projects already approved for implementation, diverted the funds into their favored projects. This had the effect of plunging the economic growth rate from 7.2 percent down to 3 percent. And then they turned around to create a humongous stimulus to recover the lost growth.
Let me quote Magno’s words to give you an idea of his argument:
“There was neither rhyme nor reason to the projects wiped off the board to fabricate “savings.” Most of them were, of course, projects of the previous administration.
“By cutting our potentially robust growth rate, the insane effort to fabricate “savings” denied the jobless the opportunity to be employed. It pushed struggling small businesses to the brink. It probably foreclosed the possibility for our economic growth to be inclusive.
“In a word, the malevolent scheme to produce fake “savings” in order to fatten the President’s personal pork barrel inflicted great harm on the most vulnerable sections of our society. This is no ordinary crime. It is the economic equivalent of genocide.”
“And where were the aggregated “savings” used? Were they used to improve social services and rescue our decrepit educational system? No evidence suggests that.
“Malacañang to this day refuses to release a full accounting of the notorious DAP, claiming it might get into the way of a motion for reconsideration at the High Court. This could not be an excuse, unless unveiling the actual use of DAP might compound this administration’s predicament. In which case, withholding the information amounts to a cover-up.”
I totally agree with Alex’s thesis. That’s why in an earlier column, I flippantly suggested that Abad should be treated like a Nazi war criminal, who invented the Final solution. I had an ulterior motive for saying that. The final solution led to the holocaust. A great nation, Israel, rose out of the Holocaust. I am cautiously hopeful that a new Filipino nation will emerge from the ashes of the DAP.
The campaign for accountability will go forward if one impeachment complaint is properly filed in the House of Representatives, is endorsed by at least one member, and then endorsed by one third of the House membership (96 based on a total of 290 members). The complaint will constitute the articles of impeachment, which shall be transmitted to the Senate,and trial by the Senate shall forthwith proceed.
The campaign for House support of the impeachment should begin immediately, to secure the needed votes to go forward.
I believe that when economic sabotage is listed as a an article of impeachment, there will be an erosion of support for the President.
Under these circumstances, House members will be hard put to justify to their constituents their refusal to support impeachment.
Trial could lead to Aquino resignation
If an impeachment complaint clears the House, the campaign challenge will become much lighter.
Mr. Aquino, I believe, will resign rather than face a trial that he cannot win.
With their shameful sellout in the Corona impeachment trial, many senators will seek to mend their ways. Many will prefer that the problem just goes away.
They have no incentives to look forward to. President Aquino will be worse than lame.
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Aquino and Abad song-and-dance act
As I write this piece, there is breaking news that Abad has offered to resign, and that President Aquino has rejected his resignation.
This resign-and-reject act seeks to paint Aquino and Abad as still functioning public servants. Nobody believes a word of it.
To win any traction, Abad should tender his irrevocable resignation, so Aquino will have no room to reject it.
The president is in a dilemma here. If Abad leaves, Aquino will be left behind as the sole author and implementor of the DAP monstrosity. The plunderer-in-chief so to speak.
If Abad goes to trial, there’s no telling what he will say in court to save himself. Aquino could wind up with more mud on his face.
If Abad stays on, the people’s indignation will rise to fever pitch, and will become difficult, perhaps impossible, to contain.
It is better all around, and more neat, if the impeachment complaint pushes through all the way to the Senate.
Then Aquino’s resignation will end the nightmare for everyone.