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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Philippines: Impeachment to be filed against Arroyo

The case will be airtight until Gloria uses her majority to shoot it full of holes by voting it down. Only one case can be filed per year. There are always problems about how to get the strongest case in play. Anyway, Gloria is probably safe as the impeachment amounts to little more than a chance for the opposition to bring up a sampling of her alleged wrongdoings.


‘Airtight’ impeach case readied against Gloria


By Sherwin C. Olaes

11/04/2007



The United Opposition will hold a caucus tomorrow to firm up legal options for an “airtight” impeachment complaint against President Arroyo that UNO plans to file on the same day to enhance its chances of being elevated to the Senate for trial.

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said the caucus would cross-check the contents of the impeachment complaint being prepared by the UNO and militant lawmakers under party-list Bayan Muna.

“We (opposition) would want to get a copy of the amended complaint by the UNO and check whether it has substance and enhance its chances of hurdling the procedural obstacles that would be laid down by members of the majority allies of the President in the House,” he said.

Rodriguez said among options being considered is to accept an offer earlier made by lawyer Roel Pulido, who filed the weak impeachment complaint against Mrs. Arroyo, to have the complaint, filed with the House committee on justice after an endorsement from Laguna Rep. Edgar San Luis, to be amended, incorporating the UNO’s complaint.

“We will study what to do because lawyer Pulido had said he is open to






amend his own complaint so whether that can be allowed or not we would check by Monday,” he said.

“If worse come to worst, that is if the majority in the House would outvote us, we would elevate this (impeachment issue) to the Supreme Court,” he said.

Rodriguez maintained the support of deposed leader Joseph Estrada on a stronger impeachment complaint against President Arroyo showed he’s not beholden (to the President) over the executive clemency given to him.

“Pardon is an independent action from an impeachment complaint, we in the opposition, even Estrada, backed an impeachment of President Arroyo, we in the opposition decide independently from him (Estrada), though we coordinate with him, but the fact that he (Estrada) wanted President Arroyo to face impeachment is good news for us,” he said.

Malacanang, meanwhile, merely laughed off statements made by Estrada that he will support a “stronger” impeachment complaint being prepared by the opposition against President Arroyo, saying it was merely being done for media hype to drumbeat public support by Mrs. Arroyo’s critics in their efforts to destabilize the administration.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said on radio the opposition knows very well the law provides only for a single impeachment complaint that can be filed in a year with the House of Representatives against the President.

“Well, we all know, our lawmakers knows this that there is an existing law in Congress that has to be followed that if there’s already an impeachment complaint filed before them and that it was already initiated before the House committee on justice, any subsequent impeachment complaints to be filed would be junked by the House because they have to follow the one year bar rule for any subsequent impeachment to be filed,” he said.

Ermita said Estrada knows this but still aired sentiment of wanting to impeach the president on “new” grounds the opposition is preparing.

“Our critics knows that there’s a law, they just wanted publicity space particularly on the pronouncement of president Estrada on this,” he said.

Ermita said Mrs. Arroyo is not bothered by such a stand made by the deposed leader saying they are firmly confident that the lawmakers in the House would adhere to what the law on impeachment says.

“You’re asking me if we’re (palace) bothered (by such pronouncement coming from president Estrada? Right now, we’re not because there’s a law and we’re optimistic that the constitutional provisions would be followed,” he said.

Estrada said the new impeachment complaint will put to rest all the issues hounding Mrs. Arroyo and her administration.

“I have learned about it. I know about it. It’s a free country. They have a purpose in doing that. I am supporting it to have closure on the so many issues against President Arroyo,” Estrada said.

Estrada, who was granted pardon by Mrs. Arroyo last week, stressed the need for the President to answer all the allegations against her that include the “Hello, Garci” wiretap controversy, the botched national broadband network (NBN) contract with China’s ZTE Inc. and the reported cash bribes to local officials at Malacaƃ±ang.

“We cannot move forward unless we have put a closure to all these issues,” Estrada said.

A lawyer of the Marcos family who had filed two failed impeachment complaints against President Arroyo in 2005 and in the following year, Oliver Lozano said since there’s already an impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Roel Pulido at the House committee on justice, the opposition should allow the principal impeachment complainant, Pulido, to amend his own complaint to avoid technicality.

“The opposition should allow him (Pulido) to be the lead complainant to avoid the one year bar rule. The opposition complaint can be an amended complaint to be signed and filed by Pulido as lead complainant. Thereafter one or more members of the opposition can thereafter co-sign the Pulido amended complaint as co-complainant. This is the way the opposition can circumvent the one year bar rule, anyway the opposition cannot legally and technically amend the Pulido complaint because they are not party to the said complaint,” he said.

Lozano said the opposition can submit their evidence to Pulido to support the former’s complaint because betrayal of public trust is a “catch all,” and includes all conduct unbecoming of any public official whether or not an act constitute a crime misfeasance or malfeasance.

Genuine Opposition spokesman Adel Tamano announced the filing of an amended impeachment complaint against Mrs. Arroyo at the House of Representatives tomorrow.

Tamano said the political opposition is poised to file the complaint “with or without” the blessings of Estrada, the titular leader of the United Opposition (UNO).

Tamano said the Go’s legal team has been gathering evidence and documents aimed at strengthening the “weak” impeachment complaint earlier filed by lawyer Roel Pulido.

“We will file an amendment to the impeachment complaint come Monday,” Tamano announced over radio dzBB.

Tamano argued the opposition’s complaint is not covered by the one-year ban under the

Constitution since it will merely amend what Pulido filed before the House last Oct. 19.

Tamano refused to provide details on the amendments but sources revealed that among the pieces of evidence are documents summoned and submitted by officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), other government agencies, and testimonies of the witnesses who testified at the Senate during the NBN inquiry.

On the other hand, senior House leaders said any amendment to the Pulido complaint cannot be made.

“UNO cannot replace, amend or supplement it. In other words, it cannot do anything about it without going against a ruling of the Supreme Court,” Deputy Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales ll said.

He said Pulido cannot even withdraw his case or allow the opposition to change or amend it since he no longer has control over it.

“The complaint is now with the (House) committee on justice, and its referral to the committee last Oct. 11 already initiated the impeachment process and gave the President a one-year protection against any other impeachment case,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales was commenting on reports that Pulido would either withdraw his complaint on Monday to give way to a stronger UNO case or allow UNO to amend or supplement it.

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