Monday, March 12, 2012
"No pork barrel to those who won't sign"
A lawmaker on Monday accused President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and his allies of pressuring members of the House of Representatives to sign Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment complaint.
This, as the defense team presented Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco as its first witness to show the “modus operandi” in the House that led to the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“I tried to psyche myself up, pikit mata akong boboto ng yes sa impeachment ni Corona,” the Navotas representative told the court, saying that it would be useless to vote “no” since the “yes” votes will have the numbers anyway.
“Ayaw ko rin mapag-initan. I don't want to catch the ire of the most powerful man in the country, the president of the Philippines. The president can make life miserable for you. Kapag hindi ka gusto ng pangulo, magiging miserable ang buhay mo,” he added.
Tiangco further narrated his “bad experience” when he voted no to the impeachment of former ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
He revealed that on March 19, 2011, there were text messages, supposedly from House committee on appropriations chairman Rep. Jun Abaya, that implied that congressmen who vote against Gutierrez's impeachment would get “zero PDAF,” referring to the Priority Development Assistance Fund, or the pork barrel.
Tiangco claimed that his PDAF, which is necessary to fund his projects, was delayed after he voted against the impeachment of the ex-ombudsman.
The representative testified as well on the rush filing of the impeachment complaint against the chief justice.
He told the impeachment court that the presentation of lead prosecutor Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. on the articles of impeachment did not include any documentary evidence, and that insufficient time was given to legislators to study the contents of the complaint.
Tiangco added he was not convinced that there was probable cause. "Paano ko pipirmahan ang hindi ko pa nababasa?"
“I believe it was not simply an impeachment of the chief justice. It was an attempt to control or to scare the Supreme Court,” he said.
When asked about the relevance of Tiangco’s testimonies, defense counsel Dennis Manalo pointed out that their goal is “to cast doubt on the grounds for impeachment” and “to question the integrity of the complaint.”
The court, however, already ruled that it will deny any motion of the defense to verify the validity of the impeachment case.
The Senate likewise denied the defense’s request to subpoena more congressmen to testify for the same purpose.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada urged the Corona camp to present evidence to counter the allegations of the prosecution.
“Nakakaantok na ho eh. Meron ba kayong ebidensya sa SALN ng chief justice? ‘Yun lang po ang hinihintay ko, ng impeachment court at ng taumbayan. Para ho makapagdesisyon na kami,” Estrada told the defense.
Tiangco will return on Tuesday for further questioning.