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Impeach Aquino now!

A formal complaint for President B. S. Aquino III’s impeachment and removal has started collecting people’s signatures in Mindanao, according to sources claiming to be members of the hitherto undisclosed “National Transformation Council.” It accuses Aquino of Culpable Violation of the Constitution, Bribery, and Graft and Corruption, “each one of which constitutes a high crime and a betrayal of public trust.”        

The complaint aims to collect at least a million signatures in the country and abroad. The signature campaign could be formally launched simultaneously in strategic cities in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and the US soon. “It is our Easter gift to the nation,” the sources said.

Under the Constitution, the President, the Vice President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of  Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.  The House of Representatives has the exclusive power to initiate all impeachment proceedings,  and the Senate the sole power to try and decide all impeachment cases.  

One-third of all the members of the 293-strong House would suffice to impeach, t while two-thirds of the 24-member Senate would be needed to convict.  In 2011, at Aquino’s behest, 188 congressmen impeached SC Chief Justice Renato Corona without reading the impeachment complaint.  In 2012,  20 senator-judges convicted Corona on one of the eight original allegations, after which 19 of them received P50 million or more each from Malacañang. 

In 2000-2001, then-President Joseph Ejercito Estrada was impeached by the House, but was ultimately ousted when the prosecution walked out of the Senate impeachment trial and took their case to the streets instead.  Because Aquino had paid off  members of  Congress to remove Corona in 2012, his allies  are confident no impeachment complaint could possibly prosper against him.  “It’s a numbers game, and we’ve  got the numbers,” they say.

For this reason,  the impeach-Aquino group will not submit to the House’s “kangaroo court.”  “We shall overwhelm the House with numbers before we file the complaint, assuming Aquino will not have resigned by then,” the sources said.  “We can’t discount the possibility that Aquino would file a bogus complaint  against himself so that after the House throws it out, no serious complaint could be filed against him for a period of one year, following the 2003 SC ruling that saved then Chief Justice  Hilario Davide, Jr. from certain impeachment and destroyed the impeachment process.  But we’ll know what to do if and when that happens,” the sources said.

The group is counting on a nation of allies, beginning with the opponents of the Reproductive Health Law, which the SC has just declared “not unconstitutional”, despite its being “the fruit of Malacañang’s bribery of Congress,” and “a population control measure”(according to the Court itself) at that, which is anathema to the Constitution.

I - Culpable violation of the Constitution

A copy of the draft complaint made available to this writer explains Aquino’s alleged willful and culpable violation of the Constitution as follows:

• The Philippines is a democratic and republican State.  Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them. The government is composed of three co-equal and coordinate branches----the Legislative, the Executive and the Judicial Departments----each with distinct and separate constitutional powers, rights and responsibilities.  Consistent with his oath to “preserve and defend (the) Constitution,” the President’s paramount duty is to preserve and maintain this tripartite system of government, adhering strictly to the principle of separation of powers and the doctrine of checks and balances, so that no single branch shall encroach upon, or usurp any of the powers, rights or prerogatives of any of the others. 

In violation of this constitutional principle, Benigno Simeon Aquino III willfully and systematically destabilized the Supreme Court by aggressively attacking then-Chief Justice Renato Corona in his public statements, and by using the powers and influence of his Office and the government’s budgetary resources  to impeach and remove the Chief Justice,  and in the process  to corrupt and coerce  members of Congress  to attain his objective. 

• Section 25 (5), Article VI of the Constitution provides: “No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations; however, the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of Constitutional Commissions may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations.” 

This constitutional prohibition notwithstanding,  Simeon Benigno Aquino III  authorized the massive transfer of funds from various sources to the Disbursement Acceleration Program, (hereafter DAP), a hitherto unknown program, which the President reportedly created in 2011 without the knowledge and consent of Congress, and the full details of which he has consistently refused or failed to disclose.

In doing  the above 1) and 2),  Benigno Simeon Aquino III has willfully and culpably violated the Constitution, committed a high crime, betrayed public trust, and undermined the integrity of his Office and the stability of the tripartite system of government  by specifically putting himself in virtual control of the three branches, in a manner subversive of  the constitutional order and the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the Filipino people. 

Such conduct warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the Republic of the Philippines.

II - Bribery  and Corruption of Public Office and Officials

In explaining the crime of bribery, the complaint says:

• Using the Priority Development Assistance Fund (hereafter PDAF), which has since been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court,  and the  DAP, whose constitutionality is being questioned before the Supreme Court, Benigno Simeon Aquino III bribed and corrupted members of the House of Representatives and the Senate in order to impeach,  convict and remove the Honorable Renato Corona as  Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. 

The complaint narrates the public incidents where Aquino showed personal enmity against Corona, his meetings with congressmen and senators to carry out his plot against Corona,  Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s admission on the DAP “incentives” from Malacañang,  Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s confirmation of the same.  It also contains a listing of the senators and the amounts they received from Malacañang before, during and after the Corona trial.

• Using the PDAF and DAP, respondent Benigno Simeon Aquino III coerced and corrupted members of Congress to approve the highly controversial “Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health bill” (hereafter RH bill), which the House and the Senate passed on third and final reading on Dec. 17, 2012. 

To make sure that the lawmakers voted according to instructions, respondent Aquino sent  four Cabinet members----Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Secretary of Interior and Local Government Manuel Roxas, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda and Communication Secretary Ramon Carandang—to the Batasan during the voting to assure the congressmen of hefty and immediate PDAF releases in exchange for their votes.

On Dec. 17, 2012, the bill was approved on third and final reading by a vote of 133 to 79, with 7 abstentions, after having been approved on second reading on Dec. 12, by a vote of 113-104.  In the Senate, the bill passed on third and final reading by a vote of 13 to 8 on Dec. 17.

In doing the above 1) and 2), Benigno Simeon Aquino III has committed bribery and corruption of public office and officials, and undermined the integrity of the tripartite system of government  in a manner subversive of the constitutional order and the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the Filipino people.

Such conduct warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the Republic of the Philippines.

III - Graft and Corruption

In explaining the crime of graft and corruption, the complaint says:

• Contrary to his much-ballyhooed “daang matuwid” (straight and narrow path), respondent Benigno Simeon Aquino  III  exerted no effort to eliminate syndicated corruption in government, but on the contrary did everything to make it worse.

As president-elect, respondent Benigno Simeon Aquino III  deliberately failed to declare  in his Post-Election Report of contributions received and expenses incurred, and subsequently in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, and in his Income Tax Return for the appropriate period, billions of pesos he had received from an impressive list of Filipino tycoons.

Many of these “contributors” had been identified as close allies and cronies of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo, and were compelled to contribute hefty sums to procure political “insurance” from the incoming administration. 

• Instead of abolishing jueteng, the multi-billion peso illegal numbers game that had figured prominently in Estrada’s impeachment case in 2000-2001, respondent Benigno Simeon Aquino III authorized its expanded operation, under a new set of operators, for which he regularly received his share of the protection money from his trusted lieutenants. 

From the off-book, or undeclared, income of government casinos operated by the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation, respondent Benigno Simeon Aquino III  has received  regular monthly deliveries that had nothing to do with the official remittance authorized by law under the President’s Social Fund.

• To make the lawmakers subservient to his will, respondent Benigno Simeon Aquino III has released billions of the PDAF and the DAP funds to the members of Congress through dubious foundations belonging to Janet Lim Napoles and questionable government-owned and –controlled corporations, fully aware that  the funds would be misused on dubious or non-existent projects.  Despite wide and intensive public demand for a full accounting of the projects that had been funded by the PDAF and DAP during the last three years, respondent Benigno Simeon Aquino III has refused to execute the law, according to his oath. To cover up for the complicit GOCCs, respondent Benigno Simeon Aquino III has decided to “abolish” by executive fiat the same GOCCs, without charging in court any of the officers involved in any malfeasance.    

• Respondent Benigno Simeon Aquino III has also deliberately refused to order the Department of Budget and Management to release  the information demanded by some members of Congress on the “fake SAROs” (Special Allotment Release Orders) on various projects,  reportedly funded by PDAF and DAP to the tune of  close to P2 trillion, and has instead covered up for DBM Secretary Abad.

• To perpetuate the myth of his so-called “high popularity”, despite the evident widespread corruption and incompetence of government, respondent Benigno Simeon Aquino has used public funds to procure manufactured and fudged “surveys” from polling firms owned and controlled by presidential relatives or cronies, thereby fooling  and morally corrupting the people by means of false claims, half-truths and outright lies on a permanent basis.

In doing the above 1) to 6), respondent Benigno Simeon Aquino III has committed graft and corruption not only in violation of his solemn oath and the law,  but also in total contempt of the electorate who had taken at face value  his promise of an incorrupt government  and had hoped to see  a new sense of integrity, decency and respect in the presidency.  Not only has the respondent Benigno Simeon Aquino III  undermined the people’s faith in his presidency, he has above all inflicted manifest injury upon their wellbeing and upon their right to hope in the future of our democracy.  Not only is this a high crime but above all a gross betrayal of public trust.

Such conduct warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the Republic of the Philippines.

Complainants respectfully pray, as they do hereby pray, that justice be done swiftly and adequately, though the heavens fall, in the name of God, people and country.

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