MANILA - The fate of the impeachment complaints against President Benigno Aquino III lies in the hands of lawmakers who may have potentially benefited from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) itself.
Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice already confirmed he has a flood control program in his district that was funded by DAP. The project is worth P40 million.
Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Treñas said there was P10 million worth of farm to market roads in his district. He said it was distributed to three barangays and implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways.
"The focus should be, was there any irregularity in the implementation of project? If it indeed came from the DAP, it should be audited."
Other lawmakers have yet to find out if they have projects funded via the DAP.
Committee on Justice Chair Niel Tupas said: “Ngayon pinapa-verify natin especially with the impeachment complaints. I advised other members to check. I, for one, was not notified.”
In an earlier statement, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said he will release the names of congressmen who received projects funded from the unconstitutional DAP.
"I am aware of many members who have projects actually being implemented and currently benefiting their districts. We must not always jump to conclusions and dub something as negative or ill-intentioned without the facts,” he said.
"I have always asked my colleagues in the House to account for their projects and the funding afforded them for these. Each of us is responsible to our constituents and to the Filipino people and should be open to scrutiny in terms of where these public funds are utilized."
Tupas left it to the individual congressmen to decide if they should inhibit from the impeachment proceedings if they benefited from the DAP.
So far, two impeachment complaints against President Aquino have already been filed and endorsed.
Tupas explained it does not matter how many are filed as long as they are referred to the committee on the same day. Each complaint will be subjected to votes on form, substance, grounds and probable cause.
The complaints can be later on consolidated.
“We will give it our utmost priority. It takes precedence over all matters,” he said.
This early, however, the president’s allies – who control Congress – already cited some reasons why the impeachment is doomed.
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali cited Aquino’s personal integrity.
"We have a good president. We have an honest president."
Erice also cited Aquino’s popularity, despite reports from survey firms of a big drop in his performance and trust ratings.
Treñas, for his part, said the ruling of the Supreme Court on the unconstitutionality of the DAP is not yet final.
Tupas, who was the lead prosecutor during the Corona impeachment trial, said: “Two things must be present for an impeachment to succeed: the evidence should be airtight and strong, and there should be strong public support. Absent one, an impeachment would fail.”
One of the impeachment complainants, Anakbayan’s Vencer Crisostomo, told Aquino’s allies: “Malinaw po para sa amin na yung DAP, perang ninakaw mula sa taumbayan… pork barrel overload, unlimited pork barrel. It is 500 times bigger than the PCSO scam of Gloria arroyo, 10 times bigger than the PDAF scam…”
Crisostomo added, “Hamon namin sa president na kung nakikita niya na isa siyang santo at di pwede madungisan ng anumang kasalanan, huwag niyang harangin ang impeachment complaint na ito. Sa mga kongresista na nakinabang sa DAP, dikta ng delikadesa ito. Hayaan nilang tumakbo ang impeachment…”
Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon, for his part, explained why he’s endorsing the complaint.
For him, the impeachment does not allege that the president stole money. He said the point is that his movement of funds is questionable.
DAP became controversial after it was alleged that it was used as reward for those who moved to impeach and oust Corona.