Lawmakers: No impeachment of PNoy

by Paolo Romero and Jess Diaz, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 02 2014 02:57 AM | Updated as of Jul 02 2014 10:57 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Leaders of the House of Representatives believe President Aquino did not commit any illegal act in implementing the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Lawmakers doused cold water yesterday on proposals to impeach the President based on the Supreme Court (SC) decision declaring three provisions of the DAP unconstitutional.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and other senior pro-administration lawmakers defended Aquino after their colleagues from the opposition sought his impeachment, as well as the resignation and filing of charges against Budget Secretary Florencio Abad following the SC decision.

In a text message, Belmonte said: “No, he (Aquino) cannot be impeached.”

Belmonte said Aquino had implemented the DAP in “good faith,” and with “sincere intentions,” and that realignment of savings has been a longtime practice.

No votes would support any impeachment complaint that may be filed in the House, he added.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said he does not believe that the House of Representatives would support the planned impeachment process and eventually vote to impeach Aquino.

“Since impeachment is largely political in nature, this plan will fail,” he said. “How can you impeach a popular President?” Albano said Aquino still enjoys wide support from both the House and the Senate and from the public.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said he does not think the plan would succeed.

“It is baseless and will not hold water,” he said. “In the first place, DAP contributed a lot to the country’s economic growth, as it funded viable and productive programs. It’s just unfortunate that the Supreme Court saw it in bad light.”

Evardone said he believes that an impeachment case against Aquino “would not even go past the committee level.”

“I think it will die there,” he said.

Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe said Aquino and Abad committed no crime in implementing DAP.

“There can be no liability because they did their jobs in good faith prior to the declaration by the Supreme Court of DAP as unconstitutional,” he said.

The SC even implicitly recognized the power of the President to realign savings within the executive department, but that Malacañang cannot do “cross-border” realignment to other branches of government, and cannot declare unobligated funds as savings before yearend, Batocabe said.

Marikina City Rep. Federico Quimbo said any impeachment against Aquino on the basis of the SC decision on the DAP would have no basis in law or in jurisprudence.

“Prior to the decision, it was in fact legal,” he said.

“These circumstances clearly will not make DAP of such a character as to make it culpable violation of the Constitution.”

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said he was surprised by the decision, and that the proper move was for Malacañang to file a motion for reconsideration.

On the other hand, Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon said the next step would be to ensure that Aquino and Abad “would be held accountable for inventing and abusing” the DAP.

“We have always been certain on the unconstitutionality of the DAP,” he said.

“We will be readying all necessary charges against officials involved in its implementation. But more important is that this constitutes the impeachable offense of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.”

Ridon said the SC ruling is a “solid ground” for impeaching Aquino.

“It will greatly bolster the case against President Aquino,” he said.

Ridon said Kabataan will now prepare an impeachment complaint against Aquino and the appropriate charges against Abad. – With Marvin Sy