Bleeding the country dry
I have no doubt that there are enough men of greed in the House for Gloria Arroyo to tap to kill the impeachment complaint that the opposition will file next month. But that should not deter the opposition from filing one on June 26.
Rep. Rolex Suplico said that administration allies in House are themselves eager to have an impeachment complaint filed against Arroyo? Isn’t the reason obvious? Suplico said there are a number of administration congressmen who have become disgruntled with Gloria Arroyo because the “Palace’s promises of cash, projects and appointments, during last year’s impeachment have not been complied with.”
There’s already one Gloria supporter who said he would not hesitate to sign the impeachment complaint this time. Rep. Douglas Cagas of Davao del Sur, one of those who voted to kill the impeachment complaint last year, was quoted in newspaper reports as feeling “betrayed by this administration and by the leadership of this House.”
Cagas was upset that Malacañang is considering removing a provision in the 2006 proposed budget requiring consultations with district representatives before energy, agriculture and agrarian reform projects are implemented. That means the national offices will deal directly with local government officials in the implementation of those projects.
How then would the “tongressmen” get their commission if the contractors would not have to deal with them?
The opposition, I am sure, is not so naïve to bank on the pledges of their business-minded colleagues. It would be a game of “Laban-Bawi” all over again with the impeachment complaint serving as the congressmen’s bargaining chip.
If last year’s rate was at least P20 million for each signature, it should be higher this year because there’s going to be an election in 2007. The congressmen will see the impeachment complaint as an election fund-raising opportunity. Malacañang has prepared for it. Arroyo recently directed the return under her control of cash-rich Pagcor (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) from the Department of Finance and PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office) from the Department of Health.
But even with Pagcor and PCSO, I doubt if Malacañang will have enough to be assured of 156 signatures that would prevent the automatic transmittal of the impeachment complaint to the Senate.
The government treasury has been bled dry since the 2004 elections when Arroyo had to pay election operators to thwart the will of the people who elected Fernando Poe Jr. for president. Senate investigations have given us a glimpse of the billions of money used for vote- buying and rigging election results that should have been spent for meaningful improvement of the lives of the Filipino people. The recovered Marcos-stolen money earmarked for agrarian reform. The fertilizer fund for farmers. The road-users tax for the improvement of roads and highways. The list is long and the amount mind-boggling.
There were also in-kind payments which are slowly manifesting in terms of projects detrimental to the environment.
Last year, Malacañang experienced a shortage of funds for impeachment payoffs as shown by post-dated checks issued to at least two congressmen through the Department of Education. If Malacañang used Dep-Ed, which is not a cash-rich agency, with a no-nonsense finance undersecretary as conduit for its payment, one can imagine how it was with resources-abundant agencies with cooperative officials like the Department of Transportation and Communication, Department of Public Works and Highways, and Department of Agriculture.
Arroyo’s funding problem for the impeachment trial is one reason why Malacañang is frantically pushing for charter change, either by People’s Initiative or by Constituent Assembly.