MANILA, Aug 7 (Mabuhay) – Threats by lawmakers to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno over the Judiciary Development Fund are “an obvious attempt to arm-twist the Supreme Court to change its decision on the Disbursement Acceleration Program” and will be met with protests, the leader of an activist group said Thursday.
Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, said the statement of several lawmakers saying Sereno could face impeachment over what they call the “judicial pork” could be their way of realizing President Benigno Aquino III’s remarks in a July 14 national address in which he attacked the high court ruling declaring key provisions of the DAP unconstitutional.
“Ang mensahe ko po sa Korte Suprema: Ayaw nating umabot pa sa puntong magbabanggaan ang dalawang magkapantay na sangay ng gobyerno, kung saan kailangan pang mamagitan ng ikatlong sangay ng gobyerno (My message to the Supreme Court: We do not want two equal branches of government to go head to head, needing a third branch to step in to intervene. We find it difficult to understand your decision),” Aquino had said.
He also appeared to allude to the JDF in his speech: “You had done something similar in the past, and you tried to do it again; there are even those of the opinion that what you attempted to commit was graver, if we were to base it on your decision. Abiding by the principle of ‘presumption of regularity,’ we assumed that you did the right thing; after all, you are the ones who should ostensibly have a better understanding of the law. And now, when we use the same mechanism – which, you yourselves have admitted, benefit our countrymen – why is it then that we are wrong?”
On Wednesday, Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Farinas, Isabela Representative Giorgidi Aggabao and Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali, all administration allies, said the alleged misuse of the JDF could be a ground for Sereno’s impeachment.
The suggestions of impeachment came after Sereno snubbed an invitation to appear at the House of Representatives’ investigation into the JDF.
But Reyes said the threats of impeachment “appear even more hypocritical and ridiculous” as Aquino’s allies accuse the Supreme Court of usurpation of congressional power over the P1.7-billion JDF while allowing the President to “usurp congressional power in realigning P144 billion in DAP funds.”
“The system is so rotten that lawmakers who benefited from DAP are now threatening the justices who voided the practices under DAP. The solons want DAP to continue as they want to benefit from extra pork,” Reyes said.
“These lawmakers forget that Aquino, in two impeachment complaints, is accused of 116 counts of technical malversation, as well as corruption of public officials,” the Bayan officer pointed out.
Despite this, the overwhelmingly pro-administration House, which hears impeachment complaints, has indicated the cases against Aquino are headed nowhere. (MNS)