In the wake of the filing of another valid impeachment complaint against President Benigno Aquino 3rd over the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) again called on the people in the government to uphold the Constitution of the land.
CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, in a statement on Tuesday, said everyone should uphold the equality of the law so that powerful people may not be able to trample down those who are weak.
“To insist that ours be a government of laws and not of men is not to subordinate the human person to the law, but to uphold the equality of all before the law so that the powerful may not trample upon the weak and so that all enjoy the freedom of the sons and daughters of God,” Villegas added.
The statement came after reports said impeachment complaints against Aquino might not prosper since majority of lawmakers are allies of the administration.
Villegas pointed out that the government should serve as the model in showing citizens that the law is to be obeyed and to be respected.
“Let the government show the citizenry that the law is at all times to be obeyed, for only under such a regime are rights and liberties safeguarded,” he said.
On Monday, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares led the filing of the first valid impeachment complaint against the President , while a group of young leaders from different universities and colleges in the country filed the second valid impeachment complaint against Aquino also on Tuesday.
A signatory to the first impeachment complaint was retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz.
Villegas issued a statement also on Monday explaining that Cruz was only speaking for himself when he signed the complaint.
“It should also be clear, however, that the position that any bishop takes on any particular issue is not necessarily that of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines. That is to say, that the CBCP as the highest assembly of Catholic bishops in the Philippines neither supports the filing of any impeachment complaint against the President but it will neither begrudge anyone, member of the clergy, or laity, the exercise of constitutionally and statutorily recognized rights,” he said.
Villegas urged the public to be more vigilant in monitoring public funds.
“We urge our citizens to keep themselves informed, to be circumspect in their actions and in their statements, and to allow their discernment at all times to be inspired by the Gospel, and governed by the law of love,” he said.
The President is not bothered by the two valid impeachment complaints filed against him in connection with the DAP because he did not violate the law in implementing the controversial program, Malacañang said also on Tuesday.
The DAP was recently declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
In a news conference, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. noted that the decision of the lawmakers to remove Aquino would ultimately be a numbers game.
He, however, wished for the “truth, reason and public interest” to prevail when the lawmakers assess the complaints.
When asked to comment on the basis of the complaints, Coloma said the issue has now entered the political arena where legislators, as opposed to justices, will have the last say.
Earlier, Malacañang said efforts to boot Aquino out would be futile because they are “premature and unwarranted,” partly because the President is still defending the acceleration program before the High Court.
Coloma said “the President acted well within the limits of his authority” in implementing the DAP.
In the second valid impeachment complaint against Aquino, the militant Anakbayan charged him with “culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and graft and corruption.”
Meanwhile, student and youth group Youth Act Now-Metro Manila also on Tuesday joined the growing peach ribbon protest holding the Aquino administration accountable for the acceleration program.
Peach (from “impeachment”) ribbons were earlier introduced to counter the Aquino administration’s call for support from the people to wear yellow ribbons that symbolize their trust in the President.
The group’s members tied peach ribbons along railings on Morayta Avenue in Manila and gave out peach ribbons with pins carrying the call panagutin (make accountable) to students and passersby in Manila’s University Belt.
WITH CATHERINE S. VALENTE AND NEIL A. ALCOBER