Lozano to file impeach raps vs PNoy

By Perseus Echeminada, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 04 2014 03:39 AM | Updated as of Jul 04 2014 11:40 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Lawyer Oliver Lozano will file today an impeachment complaint before the House of Representative against President Aquino for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution after the Supreme Court ruling declaring the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.

“I am filing the impeachment through a party-list group who assured endorsement of the complaint,” he told The STAR.

He said he would course his impeachment complaint through militant lawmakers that opposed the DAP and could endorse the complaint.

He cited his previous impeachment complaints that he sent through registered mail that was not acted upon by the House secretary general for lack of endorsement of a member of Congress.

The Supreme Court last Monday declared the DAP unconstitutional after savings pooled under the program were allocated to programs, activities, and projects that were not covered by the General Appropriations Act or the national budget.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. maintained yesterday that any impeachment complaint that would be filed against President Aquino over his implementation of the DAP would have no basis.

“I’m certain there is no basis for impeachment and that none will prosper,” Belmonte said in a text message.

He said Aquino “acted in good faith” in an effort to speed up government spending and “spur the economy, which it did.”

Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon however dismissed avowals from administration lawmakers to block moves to impeach Aquino as they are recipients of huge funds from the DAP.

Ridon said the administration lawmakers who received money from the DAP should inhibit themselves from any impeachment proceedings against Aquino.

He said various youth organizations are now preparing the filing of impeachment complaint against Aquino, and charges against Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and other officials who were behind the distribution of DAP funds.

Bayan Muna party-list Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate said they are ready to endorse impeachment complaints against Aquino.

“Aquino et al must be made accountable. While the House is still controlled by majority of the Aquino allies – many ironically are also rabid allies before of disgraced former President Arroyo when impeachment complaints were filed against her — ultimately history will be mindful of the fact that the people demanded accountability from a deceptive president peddling the hypocritical program of matuwid na daan (straight path),” Zarate said.

Lozano said he will also file a complaint with Office of the Ombudsman calling for an investigation of the impeachable act of the President including other public officials that benefited in the illegal disbursement of funds through the DAP.

“Pursuant to the Ombudsman Act, the Ombudsman should investigate this alleged violation of the Constitution that is prejudicial to the government employees in particular and the people in general,” Lozano said.

He cited culpable violation of Constitution and failure of leadership, which he said could lead the country to chaos and anarchy.

Among the grounds for impeachment, he said, are selective prosecution of pork barrel suspects, inequality in treatment of suspects including the payment of bail of Commission on Elections commissioner Grace Padaca who is facing graft charges before the Sandiganbayan, skyrocketing of prices, breakdown of law and order, political vendetta, allege bribery in the impeachment of former chief justice Renato Corona “and other culpable violations of the Constitution resulting to alleged failure of leadership.”

He warned the members of the House that any attempt to kill the impeachment might lead the people to bring their protest to the streets.

Lozano said if the impeachment was junked, one million people could join the protest with the protection of the military and police.

He said that other political groups could file a similar impeachment complaint just like what happened in the past when parties tried to impeach former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said it would push for the impeachment of the President when Congress resumes session later this month.

“It is our duty to fight for accountability, no matter the odds in Congress,” said Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes.

The group noted an impeachment is inevitable.

“The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that the President violated the Constitution through various acts under Aquino’s DAP. Since the President is immune from suit, the only way to hold him accountable now is to impeach and convict him first then file the appropriate criminal and civil cases once he is removed from office.”

Reyes said that more than a numbers game, impeachment is the prescribed way of holding the highest officials of the country accountable for their wrongdoing.

“It is our duty to bring the SC decision to its logical conclusion, which is to punish those who violated the Constitution and betrayed the people’s trust. As the high court said in its decision, the proponents and architects of DAP will have to prove before the proper tribunals that they acted in good faith.”

Unwitting exposure

An opposition lawmaker claimed yesterday that Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice had unwittingly exposed the preferential treatment given by President Aquino to the National Housing Authority (NHA) that is currently headed by a presidential friend.

United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary-general and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco said the NHA, headed by Aquino’s former classmate Chit Cruz, had received P11 billion from the presidential pork barrel also known as the DAP.

Malacañang had admitted that Aquino himself personally selected projects to be funded by DAP.

Tiangco said that Erice had earlier criticized Vice President Jejomar Binay, a cofounder of UNA, whom the Caloocan lawmaker linked to the DAP on the mere basis that he is the chairman of the NHA Board by virtue of his position as chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).

He said while Binay is the chairman of NHA Board, the NHA is an agency directly under the Office of the President.

“Erice’s tirades linking the Vice President to the DAP controversy is a dud, exposing only his ignorance and the desperation of the Liberal Part (LP),” Tiangco said.

Tiangco said he was right after all that the Liberal Party will once again drag Binay’s name by claiming he was a recipient of DAP.

Tiangco said Erice’s ignorance, irresponsiblity and recklessness showed when he claimed that the NHA was the biggest DAP beneficiary.

“Unwittingly, he exposed President Aquino to more humiliation,” Tiangco said.

Tiangco said the Office of the President, and not Binay, exercises administrative control over the NHA. – With Paolo Romero, Rhodina Villanueva, Jose Rodel Clapano