In order for the public to have a better understanding of the impeachment complaint, I am very happy to post my interview with Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplico. Vice Gov. Suplico, as we know, is one of the complainants in the latest impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. I asked about the merits of the complaint, as well as its relevance during in an environment of economic slowdown.
I thank Vice Gov. Suplico for his time, and officially giving me my first on-the-record news interview since I left the mainstream broadcast media.
Ralph: This impeachment complaint is said to be “very strong.” In what way is it strong, and how different is it from the past complaints?
Vice Gov. Suplico: Yes, this is the strongest complaint compared to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Impeachment Complaints. The first was the Lozano complaint, the second was again a Lozano complaint and the third was the Pulido complaint. We tried to amend the first Lozano complaint. But we failed. The Commitee on Justice of the House of Representatives construed the original and the amended complaints as 2 impeachment complaints. Hence, the second was barred by the first, pursuant to the 1987 Constitution and the ruling of the Supreme Court in the Francisco case, the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Hilario Davide.
The Lozano complaints and the Pulido complaint were filed and endorsed without the participation of opposition Representatives/Congressmen and groups. They were seen as government sponsored impeachment compliants. They were called “sham” or “weak” complaints, designed to be dismissed for lack of substance and give the President a one-year immunity against subsequent impeachment complaints.
The present 4th Impeachment Complaint is a product of groups identified with the opposition. The complainants have proven track records of opposing the Arroyo Administration.
The grounds relied by the 4th complaint are betrayal of the public trust, bribery, culpable violation of the constitution, graft and corruption and other high crimes.
The specific grounds are the NBN-ZTE scandal, human rights violations, the Northral scam, the Mt. Diwalwal Project, the Fertilizer scam, bribery of the Members of Congress in October 11, 2007 and electoral fraud in 2004.
We did not include the GRP-MILF agreement or the MOA-AD, which the Philippines signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front because there were news that the Supreme Court will soon decided on a petition questioning its constitutionality just before the filing on October 13, 2008. The decision came out on October 14, 2008 and declared the agreement unconstitutional. We have to file the 4th Impeachmet Complaint on October 13, 2008 since this is a Monday, the first working day after the President’s one-year immunity expired on October 11, 2008, a Saturday, at 7:15pm.
Ralph: This is the fourth time that a complaint has been filed. What are the chances that this complaint will be finally transmitted to the Senate? Does the opposition have the numbers? If not, how do you intend to generate the needed numbers?
Vice Gov. Suplico: The fact that we have beaten Atty. Oliver Lozano, Atty. Ruel Pulido and Atty. Elly Pamatong is already victory for us. Attys. Lozano and Pulido had beaten us in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Impeachment Complaints. We are now certain that the 4th complaint will be referred by the House in plenary to the Committee on Justice. And more, the grounds relied by the complaint is now being discussed nationally.
I don’t know if we can get the numbers in the Committee on Justice. Once the report is prepared and transmitted to the plenary, I still don’t know if we have the numbers on the floor of the House of Representatives. The final battle for the 4th Impeachment Complaint will be fought on the fllor of the House by the Representatives of the Filipino people. They will vote either for people or for Gloria Arroyo, her family and her cronies.
Ralph: How relevant is an impeachment complaint, given that 2010 is fast approaching, and some may wish to just focus on 2010?
Vice Gov. Suplico: The 4th Impeachment Complaint can be summarized in 2 words: stealing and killing. We wanted to send a strong message to the President: You cannot steal, you cannot kill, and get away with it. Mrs. President, we are watching you!
This becomes relevant because as we near 2010, the scams and scandals wll certainly increase. The ‘pabaon’ attitude will emerge as 2010 approaches.
Ralph: How do you address anxieties of impeachment, in view of the current global economic slowdown?
An impeachment complaint does not depend on crisis. A cursory reading of the pertinent provisions of the 1987 Constitution will confirm this. We can compare the situation to a fire gutting a house along a street. Shall we arrest looters, who would take advantage of the situation? Yes, we have to. Are the provisions of the constitution and the laws suspended just because there is a crisis? No, they are not suspended. That is why, we have to arrest the looters.
Vice Gov. Suplico: What do you say to Filipinos who are now skeptical of the impeachment process?
Yes, I agree. I think this is becuse the sacred process has been bastardized in the past. The President bought 180 House Members in October 11, 2007. This was a sad day for democracy. We have to do something about this. The 4th complaint may just do that: bring back respect to the impeachment, as the only weapon of the people against a corrupt and unfit sitting president.
Ralph: Joey De Venecia is involved in this complaint. Will the former speaker Jose De Venecia have any involvement in this impeachment process as well, now that he has severed his ties with PGMA, and has threatened to say everything he knows about the ZTE controversy?
Vice Gov. Suplico: I wish that Speaker Jose de Venecia will sign in as endorser. But the 1987 Constitution requires only 1 endorser, and we have 3 already: Rep. Satur Ocampo, Rep. Ted Casino and Rep. Liza Maza. The question of whether or not JDV will become endorser or a witness will best be addressed to Joey, as I do recognized the sensitivity of the father and son relation.