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Sun Star - Impeachment raps vs Aquino belittled

In The News
20 October 2011

By Sun Star Manila

sunstar-manilaMALACAÑANG on Thursday belittled an impeachment complaint filed by Marcos loyalist lawyer Oliver Lozano against President Benigno Aquino III.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte described the complaint as “utterly baseless.”

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ramon Carandang, for his part, said the complaint is "absurd" and will only be a waste of time for Congress to discuss it.

"Mr. Lozano's impeachment complaint against the President is absurd on so many levels. Let's not waste Congress' time with this," he said.

On Wednesday, Lozano filed an impeachment complaint before Congress for Aquino's alleged betrayal of public trust after he denied state honors for the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

He said Aquino violated the Constitution's equal protection clause, particularly the provision of the Bill of Rights. Lozano also claimed that Aquino violated his oath of office for refusing to accord military honors to Marcos even if he was a recognized war veteran and former head of state.

President Aquino denied military honors for Marcos' burial, citing the Marcoses’ failure to provide apology and compensation to human rights victims during the Martial law years.

Vice President Jejomar Binay earlier recommended that the former President be given military honors in his hometown in Ilocos Norte and not at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.

Presidential political adviser Ronald Llamas also said he doubts that the complaint will prosper.

He stressed that military honors were already accorded to Marcos during the time of former President Fidel Ramos. He said the burial of Marcos was the only part of the agreement that was not followed.

House leaders say impeachment raps won’t prosper
Meanwhile, not a single congressman will likely endorse Lozano's impeachment complaint filed by a Marcos loyalist against President Benigno Aquino III after the latter refused state honors for the burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, legislators said.

"I don't think that the grounds relied upon is an impeachable offense. I seriously doubt that any member of the HOR (House of Representatives) will endorse it," Majority Leader Neptali "Boyet" Gonzales II said in a text message.

Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tanada III said the impeachment case "will not fly" because Aquino did not violate the Constitution.
"Denial of state and military honors I believe is not covered by 'betrayal of public trust'," he added.

Impeachment complaints should get an endorsement from at least one member of the House of Representatives before it is referred to the proper committee, the Constitution states. Once it gets the majority vote of House members, the complaint will be transmitted to the Senate for trial.

Lozano reportedly sent the impeachment complaint to the Office of the Secretary General through registered mail.
House Secretary General Marilyn Barua-Yap, however, told Sun.Star that she has not seen or was not informed of any impeachment complaint filed against President Aquino.

Congress is currently in a one-month recess and will resume session next month.

Meanwhile, Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., chairman of the House Committee on Justice, also said the complaint won't likely fall under betrayal of public trust and hence, will not prosper in Congress.

"I strongly believe that Congress will not entertain (it). We will just be wasting our time if we give due course to it. Baka di nga umabot iyan ng first base. It will only distract as from more urgent issues," Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone added.
Evardone is one of the 200 lawmakers who signed a resolution urging Aquino to grant a hero's burial to the former President.
Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares called the impeachment complaint one of Lozano's "lousy pleadings".

To recall, Lozano also filed an impeachment complaint against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the latter’s administration over the alleged rigging of election returns in connection with the "Hello, Garci" controversy. The opposition, then, however, saw this as an attempt of the Arroyo administration to file a weak complaint which the House leadership can easily dismiss.

"Lozano forgot a basic lesson in law school which states that unjust discrimination does not apply to those with substantive distinction meaning we are not discriminating against Marcos because as the majority of the Filipino people know, he has the distinction of being a dictator,” Colmenares said.

The progressive party-list lawmaker added that granting state honors to a former President which the Filipinos earlier ousted would make the country a “laughing stock of the international community”.

"In fact, I think that President Aquino would be in danger of impeachment if he allowed Marcos to be buried with state honors and not otherwise," Colmenares added.

In a text message to Sun.Star, Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said he "was told he (Lozano) was planning that".
"It's not clear if that is an impeachable offense but the Palace has clearly violated the rule on burials for veterans and Presidents," he added.