July 2, 2006 Wednesday
Members of Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s “Be Not Afraid Movement” today led 20 groups in signing the fifth impeachment complaint against President Arroyo. Led by its chairman Ramon Pedrosa, and Honasan's Guardian International Brotherhood Federal Inc. (GIBFI), led by former Pagsanjan Mayor Abner Afuang, were among the 11 groups that signed the complaint in opposition to the President today.
Groups identified with Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and fugitive Gregorio "Gringo” Honasan have signed the impeachment proposal against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, saying that the country's constitutional institutions had been "prostituted" by her administration.
"I signed this impeachment really as a first stop in a long process that we hope would bring honor, a sense of duty, and patriotism back to our country," Lawyer Ramon Pedrosa (represented Lacson's group in joining the complainants in the case filed by Fr. Rolly de Leon, a parish priest from Norzagaray, Bulacan at the House of Representatives) said in a joint press conference. "Every constitutional institution that we have respected all these years have been prostituted by this administration -- since the administration of justice, the gathering of taxes from the way our Congress people are performing -- name it," Pedrosa said. He said it was just “the little tip of the iceberg of what is a sense of disappointment and of protests and of anger” of the 97 percent of the population as against the three percent of the so-called silent majority that would not "want to rock the boat because they were at ease in their zones of well-being."
"But the country can’t shift forward unless we have truth and justice," Pedrosa pointed out. Pedrosa said the government was “a failure because the process, [referring to the 2004 election] that brought it forward was itself a grand failure.”
Afuang said he signed the complaint because he simply wanted the truth to prevail. "We are just passing by. We will all die so we just want the truth," Afuang said. Pedrosa and Afuang swiftly denied that their participation in this impeachment bid against Arroyo was approved by either Lacson or Honasan. Afuang said his group’s loyalty was to the Constitution and not to any sitting President of the country. "It's hard to join Senator Lacson. He doesn’t have money, he has no pork barrel," Afuang said in joke, referring to the congressional funds given to lawmakers. "Just one question, is it rebellion to tell the truth, Mrs. Arroyo?" Afuang asked, evidently referring to the rebellion case reported against Honasan.
Pedrosa pointed out that the name of his group, “Be Not Afraid Movement" itself entailed a call not to be afraid. Mar Canonigo of Sinag ng Bayan [Light of the Philippines] Foundation, one of the complainants, said the country would not move forward until the issue of the President's legitimacy was resolved. He said that while the people were not joining the protest rallies, there were rising reaction about waiting for the right time to blow up. “And we believe that this second impeachment complaint against Arroyo can serve as a medium, not necessarily for the majority in Congress to vote for the President’s impeachment, but for wider mass actions to guarantee the success of the second complaint,” Canonigo said in Filipino.
Another complainant, Sammy Besa of Catanduanez Quorum, said his group joined the impeachment move because it was agonizing to think that the country was being run by the President, who from the start, had lied to the people. Other groups mentioned in the report that have signed de Leon's complaint were the Guardians International Brotherhood Federal Inc., Soldiers for Peace and Progress and Kaakbay.
The complaint, which concentrated on human rights abuses, will be filed when Congress resumes sessions on July 24. Other opposition groups also filed four impeachment complaints against Mrs. Arroyo last week. The complainants charged the President of committing culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption and betrayal of public trust. They said she used "dictatorial powers to suppress the lawful exercise of the people’s right to free speech, expression, assembly, free press and information in connection with and the legislative power to inquire on, matters involving to or affecting the legitimacy of her presidency."
The supposed culpable violations of the Constitution referred to the "evidently illegal and obviously unconstitutional issuances" such as Executive Order 464, Presidential Proclamation 1017 and the calibrated defensive response, which were all struck down by the Supreme Court. These issuances, the complainants noted, were proposed "to prevent investigations into her criminal acts, to restrain freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and to prevent the people’s exercise of the right to petition the government for redress of their complaints."
The supposed crimes also include the controversial "Hello, Garci" recordings in which the President is accused of manipulating the 2004 election results and the switching of ballot boxes containing town-level tallies of votes in the 2004 elections.
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