At the House: A non-victory for GMA

For the second straight day, the pro-Arroyo House leadership immediately suspended its plenary session in order to railroad the justice committee meetings. The House leaders are obviously maneuvering so that Mrs. Arroyo would not be saddled by an impeachment complaint when she flies abroad this month.

So brazen are the maneuvers yesterday and today. They suspended the House plenary meetings just to be able to resume the justice committee meetings with a singular purpose to scuttle the campaign to impeach Mrs. Arroyo. They have actually voted this afternoon to kill the Lopez and the amended Lozano complaint.

Mrs. Arroyo and her diehards in the House are naturally happy. They are in the process of depriving the Filipino people of the constitutional right to remove an impeachable official, in this case the President. More time for GMA, more perks for the “honorable” buwayas.

This is a non-victory for both Mrs. Arroyo and the House leadership. For one, the Filipino people now have every reason to take matters in their own hands and, through direct action as the holders of the sovereign power, enforce their will to remove Arroyo. The scuttling of the impeachment complaint in the most unprincipled and most mercenary manner emboldens the people to mount another uprising.

For the House leadership, it has now to contend with the perception that it is a House of Disrepute, a bastion of patronage, a mere rubber-stamp institution that would always renege on its mandate as the sole initiator of impeachment proceedings. The people’s view that the House is not a partner in the anti-corruption, anti-fraud and reform-oriented movements has been given more basis, and it is only sound to say that, in this case, the House leadership has also betrayed the public trust by being a party to a cover up.

It is inaccurate to blame pro-impeachment solons for failing to gather 79 endorsers in order to bring the case to the Senate as the reason for the death of the impeachment process. Those who point that malicious finger at the pro-impeachment point four of their own fingers at themselves. For in reality, the score is that the majority of the House members, led by the House leadership would not like to enforce the Constitution, would not like to even see the evidence against Arroyo, and would like her solely to survive the impeachment campaign.

Some weeks ago, Mrs. Arroyo told the media and the nation that she welcomes impeachment proceedings. But saying so is different from upholding it in action. She never wanted to undergo impeachment — she planted Oliver Lozano as her choice impeachment inoculator. She approved of Lozano’s unverified and pathetic impeachment complaint in order to prevent other parties from lodging verified and pithy complaints against her. At this point, the House leadership has the task of sanctifying the Lozano complaint by a favorable vote on the issue of form but trashing it on the issue of substance.

The non-victory at the House is a clarion call for Filipinos. If the House would not do its job of impeaching the president, it now falls on the shoulders of the Filipino people to do what is right.

For ironically, the death knell to the impeachment sounds like the death knell to Arroyo’s presidency. A people whose constitutional right to remove sitting Presidents may take issue at the betrayal of the House and they themselves — the real sovereign in this supposedly democratic and republican state — to do what needs to be done.

Goodbye impeachment? Goodbye GMA!

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