Saturday, August 27, 2005

NR0827:Amend impeachment rules as they're biased against civil complainants

From the Office of Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran
News Release August 27, 2005

Non-lawyer solon proposes changes in impeachment rules to favor complainants against high government executives

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today expressed exasperation with the direction the Justice Committee hearings on the impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is going. He said that it was swiftly being exposed how the entire process and deliberations were being lorded over Macapagal-Arroyo allies who were in the Majority and in the leadership of the Committee itself.

He said a lesson that’s being learned now is the need to amend impeachment rules as determined by Congress.

“As they stand right now, the impeachment rules in the House as well as in Constitution are very loose and they unjustly give the official being faced with impeachment charges a wide berth and advantage. This alone belies the essence of public accountability of public offices. There is a need to amend the impeachment rules to make sure that they are more airtight and in favor of those filing complaints against public officials, especially those in the highest offices of the land especially the presidency. Betrayal of public trust and abuse of authority are serious charges, and if the complaints are evidently and obviously substantial in content, they should always be given credence and heard out,” he said. "At the very least, impeachment complaints against high executives and officials that contain very serious charges of electoral fraud and corruption among them should be immediately and automatically investigated thoroughly."

“Even-non lawyers such as myself can see how overtly the Majority is using legal explanations to muddle the issues surrounding the impeachment complaint. The Arroyo allies in the House and in the committee are twisting and interpreting the law to suit their purpose and narrow objective, that of protecting a corrupt and illegitimate presidency,” he said. “Where is the independence of the legislative branch? Legislators are being led around by the nose by Malacanang and betraying own respective mandates to serve the interest if truth and justice.

Beltran said that the Philippine Constitution itself designates the House of Representatives to be the sole body tasked with investigating charges against the president as contained in valid impeachment complaints, “But base on what we’re seeing in Congress and the actions of the Arroyo allies, they’re continually passing the back and referring to various Supreme Court rulings that do not have direct and immediate bearing on this particular impeachment complaint against Pres. Arroyo. The circumstances surrounding previous impeachment cases are different from the circumstances now and the one being impeached is the President of the Republic, not just the Supreme Court Justice or the Ombudsman. The gravity of these charges are more than enough basis to have the complaint heard. The Amended Lozano Complaint is more than substantial, and all moves of Arroyo allies to dismiss it should be exposed as acts of cover-up for the benefit of the president,” he said.

Beltran said that it was highly unjust the way the House leadership led by Speaker Jose de Venecia and Majority leader Prospero Nograles are pushing their weight and influence around to kill the complaint. “They’re resorting to underhanded means to kill a very valid and substantial complaint against the president. This is a great disservice to the Filipino people and their demand to know the truth. The impeachment complaint against Mrs. Arroyo should be deliberated upon, and Congress is the only Constitutionally-delegated institution for this. By refusing its duty to hear the complaint and determine its substantiality and the seriousness of the charges it contains, Congress will be violating the Constitution and more importantly the Filipino people,” he said.#

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