As I was going through the articles of impeachment against Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, I began to realise how so much of the complaint against the Chief Justice is based on circumstantial assertions. I thought, hey, if this drivel of an impeachment complaint passed Congress, I’ll bet I can draft one against President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III that will hold far more water and (in principle, at least) easily make the grade.
So herewith are the five articles of my stab at such an impeachment complaint against the President of the Philippines:
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ARTICLE I: Underhanded herding of 188 members the House of Representatives into an expedited lodging of an impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The expedited initiative involved, among other things, a potential bullying of representatives into signing the complaint without reading it and the gathering of the required numbers as to bypass committee hearings or floor debates. According to former Senate Majority Leader Francisco S. Tatad…
“In making the congressmen sign an unread document in exchange for certain tangible gifts, P-Noy unduly risked his political reputation for being previously incorrupt. Critics see him now as the first corruptor of Congress.
“In their view, he has made himself impeachable in the very act of impeaching the Chief Justice. He, rather than Corona, should be the one impeached for culpable violation of the Constitution, bribery, corruption, betrayal of public trust and other high crimes.”
Some representatives of the House had earlier testified to a “furious” President Aquino demanding that the lodging of the impeachment complaint be fast-tracked and that the compliance of the 188 signatories was largely an exercise “to appease an angry President”.
ARTICLE II: Reckless neglect of the interests of public health and safety resulting in preventable wholesale loss of life arising from excessive focus of public attention and state resources on efforts to deprive former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of Constitutionally-guranteed personal liberties.
By the admission of Malacañang spokesman Edwin Lacierda himself, in a news report…
[...] the Aquino administration did not heed or give enough attention to the report of the Climate Change Congress of the Philippines, which had warned that Cagayan de Oro, the city that, along with Iligan, was most devastated by Sendong, could suffer what Metro Manila’s Marikina went through during 2009’s storm “Ondoy.”
The distraction was reportedly attributed to a preoccupation with “clearing the landmines” laid by the previous administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
ARTICLE III: Downgrading of the Philippines’ already inadequate state of disaster preparedness arising from the President’s veto of budget normally allocated to the disaster response or “Calamity” fund.
The recent devastation wrought by Typhoon Sendong is widely viewed to have been exacerbated by a lack of resources at the disposal of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). Such a decision involving the deprivation of an agency critical to public safety of much-needed funds can be considered to be a criminal offense in light of Section 19, “Prohibited Acts” of R.A. 10121, “Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010”, which lists “(a) Dereliction of duties which leads to destruction, loss of lives, critical damage of facilities and misuse of funds” punishable by fining, imprisonment, and “perpetual disqualification from public office if the offender is a public officer” among others.
ARTICLE IV: Potential conflict of interest arising from familial affiliation with Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr who is a major shareholder and senior executive in Hacienda Luisita Inc which holds the Hacienda Luisita plantation in Tarlac Province that is currently the subject of a Supreme Court ruling to subject it to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Hacienda Luisita Inc (HLI) is reportedly insolvent and is approaching a 2014 deadline for subjection to the CARP. The justices of the Philippine Supreme Court had in early December 2011 unanimously voted to lift a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the CARP being applied to HLI that had been in effect since 2005. The Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona is currently the defendant in the impeachment case described in ARTICLE I of this complaint.
This conflict of interest may already be becoming evident, depending on the veracity of reports that Cojuangco feudal clan elders exert inappropriate influence over the President and members of the House of Representatives…
The Tribune source said that the plot to oust Corona was hatched at the Bahay Matanda, the ancestral house of the Cojuangcos after elderly members of the Cojuangco clan reportedy [sic] berated President Aquino for attacking members of the High Court which they believe was the reason the SC justices revoked the stock distribution option and ordered the distribution of the [Hacienda Luisita] sugar estate to its tenants.
“From the time of (President Ramon) Magsasay, the hacienda land was never lost. When Martial Law came, we still did not lose our land. GMA (Gloria Arroyo) and Cory had a fight during GMA’s presidency, we Cojuangcos still did not lose our land. Now that that you (Noynoy) are president, we lose the hacienda!”, the Tribune source quoted an elderly Cojuangco as he berated Aquino in the vernacular.
“You are the reason for our loss of the hacienda, because even the Supreme Court you had to fight with!,” the elderly Cojuangco was further quoted as telling the President.
ARTICLE V: Conduct inconsistent with that of a statesman and unbecoming of a President of the Republic.
There are many instances where the President exhibited a shortfall in his skill and acumen as a statesman and a stunted control over emotions that befit a leader of the Filipino people over the last year and a half of his administration. The character of his rule is made most acutely evident in a speech before the First National Criminal Justice Summit held at Centennial Hall, Manila Hotel on Monday 5th December 2011 delivered by the President in which he mounted an uncalled-for verbal attack on the Chief Justice who was sitting just a few metres away. Such behaviour is widely seen to be unprofessional under any circumstances (not just within the context of that of a high-ranking government official) and could even be considered to be an insult to the entire legal profession.
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The above easily outclasses the impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice. Never before has the Philippines been ruled by a President more incompetent and unfit, and the above articles encapsulate only a tiny subset of the vast landscape of this incompetence and ill fittedness.
Having said all that (and after having framed the above complaint), I still believe Noynoy should complete the rest of his term. Filipinos deserve the next four and a half years of his rule. President Noynoy Aquino represents the answer to Filipinos’ prayers. The President, after all, believes that God is “on his side” (at least the God of Roman Catholic Filipinos).