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Official Statement of Kaya Natin! on the Impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona

December 15, 2011 1 comment

 

We, the leaders of the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership, support and laud the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona by the House of Representatives.

 

We believe that the Supreme Court, as the highest judicial body of the land, should undoubtedly be independent from any administration, past or present, in order to fulfill its obligations justly and without bias. The long and strong history between Corona and former President now Pampanga 2nd district Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gives Filipinos a compelling reason to believe that the Supreme Court led by Corona is still heavily biased for Arroyo. It also did not help that Corona’s appointment as Chief Justice itself was questionable and went against the Constitution as a midnight appointment.

 

The Filipinos deserve a truly independent and trustworthy judicial body that will decide on important cases based on what is legal, constitutional, and right, not on whom the courts are loyal to. We Filipinos have already suffered countless of injustices from biased decisions, and we will no longer remain silent while these people continue to defile our institutions.

 

We refuse to tolerate this poisoning of the Supreme Court. Now, more than ever, there is a need to restore the full trust and confidence of the Filipino people in our high court. We cannot afford to have a court that is highly mistrusted by the people, especially the Supreme Court which is supposed to work for the good of the Filipinos.

 

We call on the Senate of the Philippines, as the trial court for the impeachment case of Chief Justice Corona, to listen to the people whose trust was betrayed by the actions of Corona. We hope that the evidence presented by the Lower House in the articles of impeachment are sufficient to exact accountability from the Chief Justice.

 

We also call on every Filipino in the country to remain vigilant and continue to hold accountable our officials who have likewise betrayed us by putting their own selfish interests above the public good. It is high time that we demand transparency and accountability from our government officials, as we should rightfully do.

 

Finally, we call on all government officials, whether appointed or elected, to be truthful and faithful in our mission to serve the public. Public service is not a business, not a way to make money, but a way to give our countrymen good governance and a better quality of life that every Filipino deserves.

 

Signed:

 

Jesse Robredo, DILG Secretary

Eddie Panlilio, former Governor, Pampanga

Grace Padaca, former Governor, Isabela

Teddy Baguilat, Jr., Representative, Ifugao

Sonia Lorenzo, Executive Director, Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines

Neric Acosta, Presidential Adviser for Environment Protection

Jeng Reyes, Mayor, Alicia, Isabela

Fermin Mabulo, Provincial Administrator, Camarines Sur

Florante Gerdan, President, Poro Point Development Authority

Roque Verzosa, Jr., Mayor, Tagudin, Ilocos Sur

Mabel Acosta, former Councilor, Davao City

Shirlyn Macasarte, Board Member, North Cotabato

Janaree Disomimba, former Mayor, Tamparan, Lanao del Sur

Gloria Congco, Mayor, Cabiao, Nueva Ecija

Marivic Belena, Mayor, San Jose City

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Resignation is good but we still want justice

Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership

Statement on the Resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez

 

Resignation is good but we still want justice

 

We, the leaders of Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership welcome the resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. We firmly believe that this is a major victory in the present administration’s fight against graft and corruption in our government.  We hope that her resignation will pave the way for President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to choose an ethical and impartial Ombudsman with a proven track record who will proactively prosecute corrupt government officials regardless of their political affiliation.

 

While her resignation is a positive development in our nation’s journey towards the righteous path, we continue to echo the call for justice of millions of Filipinos who are still waiting for the perpetrators of the various corruption scandals  (such as the NBN-ZTE Deal and the Fertilizer Fund Scam) to be held accountable for their actions and/or inaction. In addition to this, we believe that Gutierrez should still be prosecuted for failing in her constitutionally-mandated duty to ensure that government leaders who engage in graft and corruption are brought to jail. An example of which is the 1 billion pesos Fertilizer Fund Scam wherein it took more than 5 years for her office to file charges against those who took part in it. As the wise saying goes, justice delayed is justice denied.  

Letting Gutierrez go without holding her accountable will send a wrong message that one can continue engaging in graft and corruption while in government and just resign to escape from any form of responsibility. This will only embolden corrupt government officials to continue to steal from our public coffers and deter more truth-tellers like Jun Lozada and Heidi Mendoza from surfacing.

 

Finally, while Gutierrez’s resignation is a victory for good governance in our country, we continue to call on every responsible and well-meaning Filipino to remain vigilant in our fight against government leaders who continue to abuse their power for their own personal gains. It is only through genuine people power  that we can finally rid our political system of corrupt and inefficient government leaders that has continued to prevent millions of Filipinos from moving out of poverty. 

Will PNoy have the numbers in the Senate?

March 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Will PNoy have the numbers in the Senate?

By: Harvey S. Keh

It is no longer the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) or the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) that is perceived to be the most corrupt government institution in our country. The Pulse Asia Survey released this week shows that 48.9% of Filipinos perceive the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as the most corrupt government institution in our country. This is not surprising given the extensive media coverage that has been given to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings that have probed into the ill gotten wealth of former military leaders, Carlos Garcia and Jacinto Ligot.

One major reason why graft and corruption has thrived and still continues to thrive in our government is the fact that the wheels of justice has been very slow in watching up with perpetuators like Garcia and Ligot. It is supposed to be the duty of our Ombudsman to ensure the swift prosecution of government officials that are found to be engaging in unscrupulous acts but we can clearly see that the present Ombudsman only moves at a fast pace when it concerns cases which are filed against the allies of President Noynoy Aquino. Cases of government officials that are supportive of the previous Arroyo administration are often left unattended or are dismissed altogether. No wonder surveys have also shown that majority of Filipinos have grown frustrated with our Ombudsman and are now clamoring for her resignation. This was clearly seen when the House of Representatives despite much pressure exerted by leaders of the Iglesia ni Cristo, voted overwhelmingly to impeach our Ombudsman.

Now the ball is in the Senate’s court as they will begin to convene themselves into an impeachment court with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile serving as the main presiding officer while the other senators will serve as the judges. Unlike in the House of Representatives where the impeachment was easily passed,  it is expected that the allies of President Aquino will find it harder to convict Ombudsman Merceditas Guttierez since they will need to convince 16 Senators to support the impeachment complaint. Let us look at the current numbers in the Senate and see if PNoy will have enough support to finally oust the Ombudsman from her post.

Looking at the present composition of the Senate, we can most likely expect 8 sure votes for the conviction of the Ombudsman. This will come from the Liberal Party’s Franklin Drilon, Teofisto Guingona III, Francis Pangilinan and Ralph Recto. Another four votes are expected from well-known close allies of President Aquino namely, Francis Escudero, Serge Osmeña, Antonio Trillanes and Ping Lacson, who has resurfaced this week.

Allies of the Ombudsman

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago

Perceived to be on the side of Ombudsman Guttierez are well-known allies of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo namely, Joker Arroyo, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Lito Lapid and Bong Revilla. I hope that Senator Arroyo will eventually have a change of heart so he can finally live up to his campaign promise (“Kung Bad Ka, Lagot ka!) of fighting for justice and what is right in our society. Senator Defensor-Santiago has always been known to be independent minded so even if she is always associated with the past administration, I wouldn’t be so sure of her vote until it is finally cast. Senator Revilla is currently the President of LAKAS-Kampi so it would be safe to assume that he vote in support of the Ombudsman.

APECO will be key

Senator Edgardo Angara

With this situation, the swing votes would clearly come from three other factions in the Senate. The first group is the Angara wing which is comprised of Senators Edgardo Angara, Juan Miguel Zubiri and Loren Legarda. The main interest of this group is the highly contested Aurora Pacific Economic Zone which up until now is being alleged as an Angara family cash cow by several church and civil society groups. These groups have also said that APECO has not done proper consultation among the different stakeholders in the area.   President Aquino has not been warm to the proposal of supporting APECO and this may be one of the bargaining chips that this group will be using during this impeachment trial. For Zubiri  and Legarda who will undoubtedly be running for re-election this coming 2013, they know the importance of this impeachment proceeding in bolstering their chances to win. If they see that the sentiment of the majority continues to be against the Ombudsman then this may ultimately sway them to vote against her. This is the reason why I believe that public pressure will be very important in determining the outcome of this landmark event in our nation’s history.

Villar and the Nacionalista Party

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano

The next faction is the Villar-led Nacionalista Party group which is comprised of Senator Manny Villar, Senator Bongbong Marcos, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and Senator Pia Cayetano. This is a very influential group in this impeachment trial since if this group decides to side with the perceived allies of the Ombudsman, it will already be impossible for the allies of President Aquino to muster the needed 16 votes. Like Zubiri, a factor here would be the upcoming 2013 elections wherein Senator Alan Peter Cayetano would be running for re-election. Cayetano has always positioned himself as an anti-Arroyo crusader and he knows too well that if he votes in the wrong way in this impeachment trial, he may as well kiss his chances of re-election goodbye.

Estrada Group

Senator Jinggoy Estrada

Finally, we have the group associated closely with former President Erap Estrada which is comprised of Enrile, Senator Tito Sotto, Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Senator Gringo Honasan. This is also the group which holds the leadership in the Senate. Senator Enrile will only be allowed to vote in cases where there is a tie. Unlike the previous two factions, this group will most likely side with the allies of President Aquino in this impeachment trial. Estrada has always been an anti-Arroyo critic in the Senate and was in fact one of the more active participants in the recent Senate hearings which probed anomalies in the AFP. Meanwhile, Honasan is also finishing his term in 2013 and will no doubt want to ensure that he will be re-elected.

Looking at this short analysis and with the 2013 elections clearly on the horizon, I believe that the key in this impeachment trial will be the general public. This will become a public relations war between the two camps because the group of Ombudsman Guttierez fully know that if public pressure against her keeps up then like what happened in the House of Representatives, her chances of keeping her post will be next to nil. After all, as we have always heard during the hearings at the House of Representatives, an impeachment is a democratic political process where the rule of majority whether perceived to be fair or not is what wins out.

Comments are welcome at harveykeh@gmail.com .

Really, how influential is the INC?

March 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Really, how influential is the INC?

By: Harvey S. Keh

President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III must be very happy with how this week is turning out for him. The recent Pulse Asia survey showed that while his trust rating has dipped a bit, it still remains very high considering that many were expecting a big drop after his first few months in office. Another huge victory for his administration has been the resounding impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Guttierez at the House of Representatives. Many people expected the Ombudsman to be impeached but not by 212 congressmen which is more than double the required 94 votes to impeach Guttierez. This goes to show how much PNoy has grown stronger politically especially within the House of Representative where many people thought would be a battleground between him and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.  More importantly, I think our leaders in the House of Representatives really saw the growing public disgust with Guttierez which eventually persuaded them to support the impeachment despite pressures from other influential groups allied with the former President.

 

Days are numbered

 

With the impeachment of Guttierez, it looks like the happy days of former President Arroyo are numbered especially now that the allies of PNoy have shown that they have complete control of the House of Representatives. Many observers believe that by taking our Guttierez, the cases filed against the former President will now be able to progress. These cases on graft and corruption such as the Fertilizer Scam and the NBN-ZTE Broadband deal are part of the articles of impeachment that will now be forwarded to the Senate. This is certainly good news for many Filipinos who have waited for so long to get to finally know the truth and are longing for justice. Yet, it is still premature to celebrate given that the Senate will still hold a trial to determine whether or not Guttierez is guilty of betrayal of public trust. Let us remember that we will need at least 16 Senators to vote to be able to oust Guttierez from her post. I am sure that the allies of Arroyo will move heaven and earth just to ensure that they will be able to convince at least 7 Senators to side with them. If this happens, Arroyo and Guttierez may actually have the last laugh. It is imperative that public pressure is sustained so we can show our Senators that we want and need a new Ombudsman.

 

Influence of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC)?

 

As early as Friday last week, reliable sources from the House of Representatives told me that the influential church group, Iglesia ni Cristo or INC has been calling up Congressmen to persuade them not to support the impeachment against Guttierez. This is also the reason why some leaders of the Liberal Party weren’t very confident in getting more than 120 votes from the House of Representatives. Although 120 votes is more than enough to impeach, it would have been a flawed victory if majority of the members of the House of Representatives voted in support of the Ombudsman. Insiders have said that the reason why INC was trying to wield its influence is because PNoy refused several favors that they have asked from him. Whether this is true or not, I think the impeachment vote last Monday clearly showed their waning influence in our political landscape.

 

Although I have good friends who are members of the INC, I still cannot understand how their leaders decide to choose which candidates to support during election time. Being a religious group, I would like to believe that they would be bastions of moral, ethical and righteous governance yet in the last elections, they actually supported candidates that are known to perpetuate graft and corruption as well as illegal activities.

In Quezon City , they supported the candidacy of one of Arroyo’s staunchest supporters, former Rep. Mat Defensor who was defeated by our Kaya Natin! Champion of Good Governance, current Rep. Bolet Banal. If one would recall, it was Defensor who ensured that Arroyo would be protected from impeachment and from any kind of investigation when she was still President. Why would INC support someone who does not support transparency and public accountability? Why would INC support someone who continued to deprive the truth from the public? Both known icons of good governance, Among Ed Panlilio of Pampanga and Grace Padaca of Isabela also did not get the support of INC in the last elections. Instead, INC supported their opponents who are well-known operators of jueteng and illegal logging activities in their respective provinces. These kinds of choices would make you wonder whether the leaders of the INC is teaching the right set of values and principles to its members. As the saying goes, actions always speak louder than words.

 

I think PNoy knows too well that it wasn’t the INC or any single organization that brought him to the highest post in our land but it was genuine people power. Thus, unlike the previous tenant of Malacañang he hasn’t given in to their demands for lucrative government posts or contracts. This is the reason perhaps why the INC decided to try to throw a “tantrum” and try to show the President how influential they still are. Well, if we base their influence on the recent impeachment proceedings, then clearly PNoy has nothing at all to worry about.

 

Comments are welcome at harveykeh@gmail.com .

Yariin na si Merci!

March 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez

Yariin na si Merci!

ni: Harvey S. Keh

Abante

Saludo ako sa ating mga kongresista sa kanilang mabilis na pag-aksyon sa hinaing impeachment laban kay Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
Matagal na kasi dapat na inalis si Gutierrez sa kanyang puwesto dahil sa totoo lang ay sa halip na habulin ang mga kurakot na pinuno sa ating pamahalaan ay siya pa ang nangunguna sa pagbibigay ng proteksyon sa mga ito.
Para kasi sa mga hindi masyadong nakakaalam, ang trabaho ng ating Ombudsman ay ang pagbibigay parusa sa mga tiwaling pinuno ng ating pamahalaan kaya naman talagang nakakalungkot na si Gutier­rez pa ang nangunguna sa pagbibigay proteksyon sa mga katulad nina dating AFP Comptroller Carlos Garcia, da­ting COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos at ang dating Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Tandaan natin na kaya malapit si Gutierrez sa nakaraang administrasyon ay bukod sa si dating Pangulong Arroyo ang naglagay sa kanya sa puwesto ay naging kaklase rin siya ni dating First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.
Usisain nating mabuti kung dapat nga bang matanggal na sa puwesto itong si Gutierrez.
Unang-una, naalala niyo pa ba ‘yung NBN-ZTE deal kung saan ibinulgar ni Jun Lozada at ni dating NEDA Secretary Romulo Neri na muntik nang mawalan ang ating bansa ng mahigit $300 milyon dahil sa pagtanggap ng suhol ni dating COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos?
Aba, pagkatapos ihain ang mga kaso sa opisina ni Gutierrez laban sa mga sangkot sa katiwaliang ito ay hanggang ngayon ay wala pa ring nakukulong.
Ganyan din ang nangyari sa pinatay na sunda­long si Philip Pestaño kung saan mismo ang United Nations na ang nagsabi na hindi ito nagpakamatay gaya ng pinapalabas ng ating mga pinuno sa military.
Dahil dito naghain ang pamilya Pestaño ng demanda laban sa mga pinuno ng kanilang anak sa military ngunit gaya ng nangyari sa NBN-ZTE deal ay wala ring ginawa ang Ombudsman.
Ngayon naman ay na­ging malaking kontrobersya ang ginawang pagpapalusot sa kasong plunder kay Garcia dahil ayon sa grupo ni Gutierrez ay mahina raw ang kanilang mga ebidensya.
Mahina nga kaya? Eh mismo ang bansang Estados Unidos nga ang nakahuli sa pagpupuslit ng pamilya ni Garcia ng mil­yun-milyong piso papasok ng kanilang bansa! Kitang-kita sa mga kasong ito na pinapaboran talaga ni Gu­tierrez ang mga malalapit na kakampi ng nakaraang administrasyon kaya kahit mangurakot at magnakaw ang mga ito ng bilyun-bilyong piso ay hindi sila napaparusahan.
Habang kung ang isang pobreng ordinaryong ma­mamayan ay nahuling nagnanakaw ng isang kilong bigas para ipakain sa kanyang nagugutom na pamilya ay siguradong kulungan agad ang bagsak nito.
Dapat ay yariin na talaga si Gutierrez at huwag nating tantanan ang pagpapakita natin sa ating mga kinatawan sa Kongreso at sa Senado na ayaw na talaga nating manatili pa sa puwesto ang isang tiwa­ling opisyal na katulad ni Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
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