PNoy faces impeachment rap over Marcos burial

By Perseus Echeminada, Philippine Star

Posted at Oct 20 2011 08:51 AM | Updated as of Oct 20 2011 10:04 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Marcos loyalist lawyer Oliver Lozano filed yesterday an impeachment complaint before Congress against President Aquino for alleged betrayal of public trust for refusing to provide state honors for the burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

Lozano filed the complaint through registered mail sent to the office of the secretary-general of the House of Representatives. The House is currently in recess.

He claimed that Aquino violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution, specifically the provision of the Bill of Rights and his oath of office, for denying burial with military honors for a recognized war veteran and former head of state.

“If other lower ranking military officers were buried with military honors, President Marcos is also entitled to be buried with military honors,” the complaint said.

Lozano said Aquino also violated his oath of office “to do justice to every man as well as uphold the Constitution.”

He said the impeachment complaint would also be sent to each of the 200 members of the House who signed a resolution calling for state honors for the burial of the late president at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.

Lozano expects some of the 200 lawmakers to endorse the impeachment complaint.

“A House resolution passed in Congress has a force of law that the President cannot ignore,” Lozano said.

He said Aquino betrayed public trust when he disregarded the recommendation of Vice President Jejomar Binay who was ordered by the President to conduct public consultation and study the proposed military honors for Marcos.

Binay later recommended only military honors and not state honors for Marcos’ burial at his hometown in Batac, Ilocos Norte and not at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Lozano insisted that there is no legal ground to ban military honors for the burial of Marcos, whom the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had already recognized as a war veteran.

Even the House of Representatives had passed a resolution calling for a hero’s burial of the former head of state, he added.

“Denying a military burial for a recognized war veteran and former head of state is a violation of the equal rights protection under the Bill of Rights (and) is also tantamount to betrayal of public trust which is a ground for impeachment,” he said.

Lozano said the opposition of so-called human rights victims to a military funeral is not a legal ground to deny a former head of state and war veteran the rights accorded to him by the Constitution.

He said that providing the former president a state funeral would signal the start of the unification process that will allow the country to move forward.

“Denying a state funeral for a former head of state would just sow further disunity which is not good for the country at this point in time,” he said.

Impeachment case won’t prosper

Congressmen said yesterday that the impeachment case filed by Lozano against President Aquino will not prosper.

“P-Noy is accused of betraying the public trust. How could he have betrayed the people’s trust when he is enjoying an unprecedented level of trust and confidence from the people as evidenced by the surveys?” Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone asked.

Evardone said he does not think that the impeachment complaint would gain support from even a small number of members of the House, which is dominated by administration allies.

“I doubt if even the opposition would support it,” he said.

He said he would not be surprised if Lozano is just out to gain publicity by filing the complaint by mail.

The opposition is composed mostly of allies of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., chairman of the House justice committee, said Lozano must convince at least one congressman to endorse his complaint.

“If there is no endorser, then the complaint is a mere scrap of paper,” he said.

He said if Lozano succeeds in recruiting an endorser, the case would be referred to his committee, which would have to conduct hearings on it.

Evardone and Tupas are members of the ruling Liberal Party of President Aquino. – With Jess Diaz