DAVAO CITY – Congress could regain its dignity should the impeachment process versus President Benigno Aquino III run its course, a partylist lawmaker said.
Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares said that the Supreme Court already declared illegal “some acts and practices” under Dap last July 1. In November last year, the Supreme Court also ruled that the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) was unconstitutional.
“Are they just going to say: Ok Mr. President if we passed the budget, you can go ahead and disregard it? We should have a little dignity to stand up for the laws we pass and not just kneel to the President,” said Colmenares.
He said legislators allied with the President should “all the more support the impeachment because officials who have immunity like the President are like Gods and the only mechanism of accountability available is the impeachment.”
“I hope that we don’t go back to the Arroyo (former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) wherein it was just a numbers game,” said Colmenares.
“Though in the end they could use it, they should remember that they were voted to be the voice of the people and the people want the impeachment complaints to win in Congress.”
Because of the numbers game, Colmenares said the people “outside of congress should exert more pressure and let their voices be heard by holding mass actions.”
He said lawmakers have “lost their dignity with the Dap (Disbursement Acceleration Program) of President Aquino.”
Colmenares described the Dap as “pork (or discretionary fund) created by the Executive branch which even surprised senators and congressmen”.
Last year’s clamor against the pork barrel system gained momentum following of the disclosure of a P10-billion pork barrel scam involving Janet Lim-Napoles in which many legislators were implicated giving allocations from their Priority Development Assistance Fund. This is the pork barrel of senators and Congress representatives.
Bayan Muna was one of the groups who described President Aquino as the “pork barrel King” after the Dap scandal, saying that the President “too has billions of lump sum in the budget”.
Amid investigation by several government agencies, Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada said in his privilege speech that the Dap was used to “pay” them off to unseat Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Colmenares was in Davao City to speak to convenors of the “People’s Initiave vs Pork Barrel” campaign which seeks to pass a bill to criminalize “all kinds of pork barrel funds.”
Colmenares said they need to gather 10% or 5.2 million of the 52 million registered voters in the Philippines but should include at least 3% of voter in every legislative district.
The group will hold a “People’s Congress” in Cebu in August 23 and in August 25, their campaign will be launched in Luneta in Manila.
The latest to express support to the group’s campaign is the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.
Colmenares said it would take eight months to one year to gather the need signatures.
“This coalition has started since last year but the campaign is gaining grounds in terms of having people more informed and involved in the national budget. So it is possible to achieve this in less time,” he said. (davaotoday.com)