Tue, Jul 08, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Philippine president Benigno Aquino III faces impeachment

Reuters

A former Philippine congressman yesterday filed an impeachment complaint against Philippine President Benigno Aquino III alleging bribery and violations of the constitution, but analysts said the popular leader could defeat the motion, thanks to his grip on the legislature.

It is the first time that Aquino, whose popularity rating in the past four years has stayed above 40 percent, could face impeachment for distributing his discretionary funds to lawmakers, an act the Philippine Supreme Court has declared illegal.

“The complaint is based on three grounds: namely, bribery, betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the constitution,” Augusto Syjuco, who also questioned Aquino’s discretionary fund action before the top court, told reporters.

“It has been filed to the records office of the House of Representatives until the resumption of Congress,” he said.

The complaint will wait until the legislative body reopens for its second regular session on July 28, when a sitting member will endorse it, he added.

Syjuco said the complaint had been signed by 25 other concerned citizens, but he is gathering more signatures.

Edwin Lacierda, the president’s spokesman, dismissed the complaint, saying Syjuco was known for filing cases against the administration.

“It’s beyond us to comment,” he said. “What they do is their business, we will not comment.”

The votes of about 96 of the 290 members of the lower house of the Philippine Congress are required to impeach a president and the votes of two-thirds of the 24 senators are needed to remove him from office.

However, Aquino appears to be immune from impeachment proceedings, after winning unprecedented control of both houses after midterm elections last year.

“This is always a numbers game,” Ramon Casiple, executive director of the independent Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, told reporters.

Last week, the Supreme Court said the Aquino administration had violated the constitution when it collected “savings” from executive offices and distributed them to lawmakers to fund projects not approved in the budget.

This action by Aquino coincided with his government’s efforts to remove the nation’s top judge, who is associated with former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

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