MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers are being blackmailed to sign the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Renato Corona or risk losing their pork barrel for next year, House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman said Monday.
Speaking to ANC, Lagman said he received reports from individual congressmen who were threatened with deprivation of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), "particularly in 2012, which is the year before the election."
The congressman, who is an ally of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, called the impeachment of Corona as the "mother of all blackmails" since it blackmails both the lawmakers of losing their PDAF and the SC justices who risk being impeached if they do not decide cases in favor of the Aquino administration.
"We hope the Senators who will act as impeachment judges will be strong and judicious not to succumb to similar blackmails. The derogation of our democratic institutions is almost complete with the emasculation of the House of Representatives, the violation of civil liberties, the impairment of the rule of law, and now the destruction of the Supreme Court and the judiciary," he said.
"Ano pa ang natitira sa ating democratic institutions e lahat ay binalewala na," he added.
Lagman said Malacañang blackmailed congressmen to get the 95 signatures needed to transmit the articles of impeachment directly to the Senate for trial
"That is my impression. The requisite number of the membership of the House have already signed," he said.
No vote necessary to send to Senate: LP
For his part, Cavite Rep. Emiliano Joseph Abaya Jr. said a total of 176 congressmen had already signed the impeachment complaint before 6 p.m. "No motion or vote is required for transmittal of the complaint," he said.
He said a plenary action is needed for the House majority leader to order the secretary-general to transmit the complaint to the Senate. He said the Lower House will also designate prosecutors to handle the Articles of Impeachment while the Senate will need to convene as an impeachment court.
In the draft complaint obtained by abs-cbnNEWS.com, the lawmakers led by Niel Tupas Jr., Joseph Emilio Abaya, Lorenzo Tañada III, Reynaldo Umali and Arlene Bag-ao cited 8 grounds versus Corona, including betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.
Abaya said the impeachment really started with the frustration of President Aquino by the Supreme Court's decisions to block government moves to prosecute former President Arroyo for alleged corruption and election fraud.
"For us, as Liberal Party secretary-general, this is part of the reform agenda of the President and we see that with all the reforms he has made. the only thing left as a hindrance is the Supreme Court. This is why I agree and join the president," he said.