Analyst: Impeachment bid vs Aquino not a lost cause

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Friday, July 25, 2014

PRO-IMPEACHMENT groups should not be disheartened by the prevailing notion that the battle to remove President Benigno Aquino III for implementing the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) may have been lost before it actually began.

In an interview, former National Treasurer Leonor Briones said the impeachment process is a way to seek accountability from the President on the use of his purported economic stimulus package, whose creation was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC).

"The usefulness of this process is that data will be summoned to the hearings. We want to know if the funds had been used properly and how the government funded any such project, activity or program under the DAP," she told Sun.Star on Thursday.

Briones noted that DAP, which the administration used to speed up spending to avert a further slide in the economy from 2011 onwards, took out funds from other items in the national budget.

She said the public must know what programs, projects and activities were set aside to make way for the 116 projects, which cost the public P144.3 billion.

Aquino allies dominate the House of Representatives, whose approval is needed to bring the impeachment case to the Senate for trial. The President, however, also enjoys majority support in the Senate, making the bid perhaps an exercise in futility.

Still, Briones admired those who called for Aquino's ouster even if the odds are not in their favor.

"Those guys know that it’s going to be an uphill climb but why did they go ahead anyway? You believe in your hearts of hearts that something wrong has been done, the Constitution has been violated. Will you just keep quiet? I admire them," said Briones, one of the petitioners against the DAP.

Meanwhile, the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) asked lawmakers to examine the complaints, check if these are backed up by data, records and circumstances and determine whether there are "constitutional, legal and factual" bases.

"Will it be outstandingly silly to just dismiss it outright, without insulting one's own conscience and losing self respect as a rational being? Are they willing to ignore the sincere clamor and be insensitive to the discontent of their constituents?" said the group, which drafted the first complaint filed by anti-pork barrel advocates led by Bayan Muna party-list.

"To my colleagues in the majority, this I tell you: for blindly defending the ruling president despite his culpability, history will judge you. The history books of the future will depict you as mindless minions, meekly kowtowing to the president at a time when dissent and genuine opposition was needed,” added Kabataan partylist Representative Terry Ridon, who endorsed one of the three impeachment complaints.

The NUPL also shot down claims of some quarters that the impeachment cannot be entertained while the DAP decision is not final as the SC has yet to resolve Malacañang’s appeal.

The group said the impeachment process can move independently, it being a “class of its own, and its grounds, cause of action, standards and reliefs are distinct from any pending court case.”

Even if they lose, the lawyers said an attempt to make the President accountable for his actions is something they “do not and will not regret.”

“Because we believe we make history or we can potentially turn the tide against those who cling to power no matter the cost,” the NUPL said. (Sunnex)

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