By Julius D. Mariveles and Cong B. Corrales

PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino III would soon be facing the fourth impeachment complaint against him coming from the Alliance of Concerned Teachers partylist. ACT Rep. Antonio Tinio was quoted to have said that they have strong evidence to prove that Aquino violated the Supreme Court prohibition by perpetuating the Priority Development Assistance Fund, more known as the pork barrel fund.

The first two suits against Aquino were related to the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The first one was endorsed by Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Zarate and Neri Colmenares, and Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap, while the second was endorsed by Kabaan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon.

Tinio and Gabriela party-list Rep. Emmi de Jesus filed the third impeachment complaint against Aquino over the Philippine-United States Enhanced Defense Coopertion Agreement (EDCA) that the complainants claimed was a culpable violation of the Constitution and a betrayal of public trust. They said that it violates the ban on the presence of foreign troops and bases and the prohibition on the entry of nuclear weapons sans a treaty concurred in by the Senate.

PRESIDENT AQUINO, right, listens to United States President Barack Obama during Obama's state visit to the Philippines on April this year | Photo from Presidential Communications Operations Office website

PRESIDENT AQUINO, right, listens to United States President Barack Obama during Obama’s state visit to the Philippines on April this year | Photo from Presidential Communications Operations Office website

Aquino is not alone in the list of presidents who faced impeachment complaints.

Nine years ago today, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) reported on the impeachment complaints lodged against then President and now Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo over the controversial “Hello, Garci” tapes ["A mere scrap of paper"].

Arroyo’s legal counsel, Pedro Ferrer had filed a motion to dismiss all the impeachment complaints against the beleaguered President, except for the first one filed by lawyer Oliver Lozano.

In a press conference on August 10, 2005, Ferrer went on the offensive and sought the dismissal of the impeachment complaints on the following grounds:

that they are in violation of the one-year ban for filing an impeachment complaint against the same official;

that the Supreme Court as the presidential electoral tribunal, and not Congress, has no jurisdiction on the matter of electoral fraud; and

that the wiretapped conversations are inadmissible as evidence in court.

HELLO, GARCI? Former President and now Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo | Photo from RTVM

HELLO, GARCI? Former President and now Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo | Photo from RTVM

These are the same grounds raised in Arroyo’s reply to the Lozano complaint filed by Ferrer on her behalf on July 18, seven days before Congress opened its second regular session on July 25.

“Its basis is constitutionally and legally untenable,” claimed lawyer Neri Colmenares, then spokesperson of Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL), one of the private complainants in the amended impeachment complaint endorsed by 41 congressmen and party-list representatives. “In the first place, the rules do not allow for the filing of a motion for dismissal.”

Interestingly, Lozano’s reply to Ferrer’s motion maintained that “the very fact that Arroyo answered the complaint means the president is actually admitting to the sufficiency in form and substance, including probable cause, of the the complaint.” In the same press conference, Ferrer had made a mistake in acknowledging that it was former electoral commissioner Virgilio Garcillano whom Arroyo had talked to in the tapes.

Ferrer, however, refused to elaborate after realizing his blunder. “Coupled with the president’s apology and her lawyer’s admission that it was Garcillano with whom the president talked to, the sufficiency in form and substance, including probable cause, has already been established. The impeachment case has to be elevated to the Senate,” Colmenares had said.

The ‘Hello, Garci’ scandal was the basis of the impeachment case filed against Arroyo in 2005. It refers to the recorded conversations between President Arroyo and an official of the Commission on Elections who is believed to be Virgilo Garcillano [See “Virgilio Garcillano: Master Operator”].

The PCIJ also uploaded the audio files on its site ["Downloadables" Section].

However, attempts to impeach Arroyo later that year failed. The following year, another impeachment case was filed against Arroyo but was defeated in the Lower House. Arroyo went on to finish her term as the 14th President of the Philippines.

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