Friday, December 4, 2009

‘Things can happen’ with Arroyo in House

By Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:27:00 12/04/2009

Filed Under: Inquirer Politics, Congress, Impeachment, Charter change

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines — The specter of President Macapagal-Arroyo’s successor going through what she has endured from her political enemies in Congress is a distinct possibility if Ms Arroyo wins a House seat and her preferred presidential candidate loses in 2010.

This could happen if the President wins a congressional seat and the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD retains political control of the House, as chief presidential legal counsel Raul Gonzalez believes could happen.

Then it’s not far-fetched for her House allies to initiate constitutional amendments and serial impeachment complaints against whoever sits in Malacañang.

Of course, everything would depend on Ms Arroyo winning a House seat and the administration standard-bearer, Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro, losing the election, said Gonzalez.

“Let us say that Lakas wins the majority of the votes among congressmen, that Gibo loses yet the party maintains an overwhelming majority in the House and is still dominant, then usually an amendment in the Constitution can follow,” he said in a phone interview.

Impeachment spectre

“Things can happen. You can amend the Constitution. You can even do impeachment later against whoever the president will be if he commits a violation of the Constitution,” he added.

Gonzalez will have none of those criticizing the President’s supposed motives for seeking election to a lesser office.

“There is no moral issue there—all these people talking about morality are all hypocrites!” he said.

“When it is something not against the law, there is no immorality involved. If it is illegal then it is immoral,” he said.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita on Tuesday admitted that revising the 1987 Constitution remained a priority of the President.

He said Ms Arroyo would continue to be an influential figure in the incoming Congress, should she win a congressional seat, because of her stature as a former president.

‘Definitely immoral’

Election lawyer Sixto Brillantes Thursday said Ms Arroyo’s congressional run “demeans and degrades the Office of the President.”

“While constitutional and legal, it is definitely immoral,” he said.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño said Ms Arroyo’s return to power as a House representative would be a threat to democracy.

Romulo Macalintal, Ms Arroyo’s election lawyer, maintained that the President is running “not for personal interest but because of her sincere desire to continue her commitment to public service.”

Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said Ms Arroyo was running for Congress to continue the fiscal reforms that she had been unable to achieve during her presidential term.

He said some of the revenue-generating laws that she wanted passed have not hurdled the House. With her in Congress, she would see to it that these are passed, he said.

Suarez said if and when she pushes for Charter change, it would only be to reform the economic-related provisions in the Constitution, not to change the system of government.

Hurdles to clear

United Opposition spokesperson Ernesto Maceda said Ms Arroyo has several hurdles to clear, including getting the blessings of the new president, before she can become speaker.

“But definitely if an opposition candidate wins, she has absolutely no chance to become speaker, much less prime minister,” he said.

Sen. Joker Arroyo said Ms Arroyo can never be prime minister because for that to happen the Constitution has to be amended first and she does not have the power to do that.

“She is now very weak, she has no political clout, what more if she is only a congresswoman,” Joker said at a Senate press briefing.

Neither can she become House Speaker as “the choice of Speaker is the prerogative of the next President,” he said. With Leila Salaverria, Allison W. Lopez and Michael Lim Ubac

Original Story:

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