PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — BELYING their reported reconciliation, Speaker Jose de Venecia is moving behind the scenes to oust President Macapagal-Arroyo, a ranking official of the President’s political party alleged yesterday.
Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte, Kampi president of the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino, bared an attempt to amend the House Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings of the 14th Congress allegedly orchestrated by the camp of De Venecia. Had it succeeded, it would have paved the way for Mrs. Arroyo’s impeachment the Bicol solon said.
Villafuerte accused De Venecia and other House leaders of including the proposed amendments to the impeachment rules in the Business for the Day or on the agenda during the Tuesday session which he suspected would allow the supposed “sham and weak” impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Roel Pulido and endorsed by Laguna Rep. Edgar San Luis against the President to be supplemented by an “addendum” such as the motion filed by the opposition.
“Obviously, the Speaker’s camp is playing with fire despite the reported reconciliation with the President. Why would you include that in the agenda if you are not going to discuss it? Hindi naman ako ipinanganak kahapon. Nagulat nga si Presidente ng malaman na may ganito,” Villafuerte said in a telephone interview.
The House committee on Justice returned the addendum complaint filed by Tamano, spokesman of the United Opposition. House Secretary General Roberto Nazareno did the same thing with the supplemental complaint lodged by Iloilo Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico. Both complaints were aimed at bolstering the Pulido complaint.
Villafuerte challenged De Venecia to lead by example and show concrete proof of his being a true ally of the President.
The Camarines Sur lawmaker explained that the present 14th Congress had already adopted provisionally the rules on impeachment of the 13th Congress that barred entertaining supplemental and separate complaints.
He believes amendments that would allow consolidation would run counter to the Supreme Court decision barring the initiation of more than one impeachment complaint against a certain impeachable official within a period of one year.
On Tuesday evening, Villafuerte’s motion to return to the House committee on rules the proposed amendments to the rules on impeachment for further discussion had been granted via a vote of 82 against 50 and two abstentions. The committee is chaired by House Majority leader and Iloilo Rep. Arthur Defensor, a stalwart of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats.
It was learned that almost 25 congressmen from Lakas-CMD joined the 50 lawmakers in opposing the motion of Villafuerte which the latter claimed was a clear indication that the “friction” between Mrs. Arroyo and De Venecia is far from over.
“Mabuti nga nagka-alaman kung sino talaga ang maaasahan ni Presidente sa panahon ng kagipitan,” said Villafuerte.
When asked about the personalities who could be behind the move to amend the impeachment rules to facilitate the impeachment of the President, Villafuerte named De Venecia, Deputy Speaker for Visayas and Cebu Rep. Raul del Mar, Defensor, House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II and other Lakas-CMD stalwarts.
But Gonzales shrugged off allegations that they are trying to pave the way for the impeachment of Mrs. Arroyo by allowing amendments to the rules.
“Napakababaw na pananaw, ang mga taong nagsasalita niyan, nagsisipsip lamang,” said Gonzales.
He also defended their action in voting against the motion of Villafuerte, saying he could not vote against the decision of the House rules committee of which he is a member.
“As member, this is our product and I can’t in conscience vote against my report,” said Gonzales.
During the regular Ayes and Nays News Forum, Quezon City Rep. Matias “Matt” Defensor clarified that even if the amendments to the rules on impeachment had been carried out, it would not apply to the impeachment case against Mrs. Arroyo.
“The game has already started, you cannot change the rules,” Matias Defensor told reporters, adding that amendments to the rules would not cover those complaints that were already referred to his committee since the one year ban has started.
His committee will start hearing next week the Pulido complaint against Mrs. Arroyo.