FORMER senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad announced on Saturday that he and fellow lawyer Allan Paguia will initiate a signature campaign seeking the impeachment of President Benigno Aquino III for trying to influence senator-jurors in the trial of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Speaking with journalists at a weekly forum at Annnabel’s in Quezon City, Tatad hopes to gather millions of signatures as part of a “people’s initiative” that will force the House of Representatives to commence impeachment proceedings against the President.
Asked how he hoped to get their impeachment bid off the ground when Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has already said that such a move would not flourish in the lower chamber, where impeachment cases must legally originate, Tatad said theirs will be an “extraordinary complaint.”
“There must have a volume. The complaint must be short but well-studied. It would prosper if there is the involvement of so many organizations supporting it across the country from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao,” he said.
“We will begin with the people, and not the House of Representatives. A people’s initiative,” he added.
“People power is not just about street protests,” Tatad said, adding that there is enough ground to file an impeachment complaint.
Paguia agreed that the President’s admission that he did meet with senator-jurors during the pendency of Corona’s impeachment trial was sufficient ground for complaint.
“There was undue influence under the Constitution and Civil Code. The duty of the Chief Executive was to maintain equal protection of the law. He violated by trying to influence senators,” Paguia told the forum.
He said the President also violated Section 12 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for accepting the resignation of them Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez although there was a pending impeachment case filed against her.
Aquino himself admitted meeting with Senators Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, Teofisto Guingona III and Senate Majority Leader Ralph Recto while they were jurors in the Corona trial.
Aquino even said he did not and was ready to face any impeachment complaint filed against him.
Presidential Spokesman Herminio Coloma Jr. said the President did not meddle with impeachment trial and Aquino merely asked the senators to decide on the merits of the case and not be swayed by political pressure.