Impeachment steamroller | Inquirer Opinion
Analysis

Impeachment steamroller

THE 212-46 vote of the House of Representatives on Monday to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas  Gutierrez demonstrated beyond doubt that the people’s deputies in the lower chamber in the Aquino administration  are no less disposed to use their overwhelming numbers to drive the impeachment complaint against Gutierrez  to the Senate than the House during the Arroyo administration when it threw out  in 2005, 2006 and 2007 impeachment cases  against the intensely reviled Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The House vote on Monday did not disappoint public expectations that the majority coalition would use its superior  numbers to flatten, like a German Tiger tank in World War II (thanks to the design of the  Ferdinand Porsche industrial complex at the behest of Adolf Hitler, also designer of the Porsche  vintage car now owned by President Aquino), the opposition.

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The leaders of the House majority could only be rapturous   over the result showing the actual votes for impeachment exceeding  the required  95 votes, representing one-third of the House members.

It is not hard to imagine a deafening volume of  chest-thumping  in the administration camp over the overwhelming passage of  House Resolution 1089, seeking the impeachment of Gutierrez, after the chamber determined, using its own version of “due process,” to impeach Gutierrez  for “betrayal of public trust,”  according to Article XI, Section 2 of the Constitution.  The articles of impeachment contain six articles alleging that Gutierrez violated her constitutional duties as protector of the people by, among other acts, using the powers of her office “to wrongfully exclude” former President Arroyo from investigation and absolve  her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, “from criminal prosecution stemming from the scandalous NBN-ZTE  deal.”

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In eyes of Aquino allies in the House, the vote meant that they had saved President Aquino from losing face  over a failure to line up  his congressional cohorts  to do what he wants, which is to  impeach  Gutierrez, whose continued presence in the Office of the Ombudsman rankles Mr. Aquino, who considers her as an obstacle in his campaign to purge government of corruption.

Gloating over the passage of HR 1089, Deputy Speaker Raul Daza, co-sponsor of the resolution, claimed that the people rallied behind President Aquino’s campaign slogan, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” He gave the impeachment a moralizing pitch, saying that “such a strong expression of people’s will for a free and honest government was reflected in the articles of  impeachment which should be approved  by  reform-minded people who want to follow the straight path.”

This attempt to seize the moral high ground flew in the face of the fact that the majority vote  was obtained by means as onerous as  those employed by Arroyo when her congressional numbers crushed the impeachment complaints filed against her and the numbers used by the Marcos dictatorship in ramming  his decrees through the subservient Batasan Pambansa with his party, Kilusan Bagong Lipunan.

Administration allies in the House have never made a secret of their intention  to  mobilize “people power” in the House, through the people’s deputies in the chamber, to unseat Gutierrez, by hook or by crook  or by legal or extra-legal means. In this respect, the administration forces are no better in their method than Marcos or Arroyo, both of whom did not pull their punches in  getting their objectives done.

Some critics of of Mr. Aquino say he  has a slow “learning curve,” but  his interventions to push the House to impeach Gutierrez demonstrate that they have grossly underestimated his ability  to emulate underhanded  methods he deplored when used by Arroyo when she used her party’s superior numbers in the House to choke the complaints against her.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Aquino met Liberal Party members of the House  to step up efforts to impeach Gutierrez, telling them that they have a duty to support  the administration’s campaign to eradicate corruption in government. His pressure bore fruit  not only with the LP, which  has only 80 members in the House,  but also with  representatives of other parties, when the committee on justice hammered out a draft of the articles within a few days of the meeting, and voted to report it out to the plenary which subsequently voted overwhelmingly to impeach and to transmit the articles to the Senate for trial.

It would be utterly naïve to presume that House members are unaware of the immense patronage resources, including pork barrel fund releases, available to the President to grease the engines of the legislative mill and produce results on crucial measures central to the success of his projects, such as purging the government of corruption.

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In these machinations  to steamroller this top priority project in the House, the President has proved no less unscrupulous than Arroyo in deploying all available means to achieve his objectives. The only difference is that Mr. Aquino is hypocritical, giving method an aura of a  holy war against corruption.

Mr. Aquino is not coming with clean hands in his intervention to bulldoze opposition to the impeachment cases against Gutierrez. The impeachment of Gutierrez is so far the most outstanding success and accomplishment of his administration during its first year, which has been bereft of concrete programs.

The impeachment process has become very messy. He better  watch out for opinion polls. The latest survey by Pulse Asia shows his ratings have begun to slide. It cannot be stopped by pious slogans.

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TAGS: Government, impeachment, ombudsman
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