Representative Matias Defensor, chairman of the committee on justice that will hear the complaint, announced that deliberations to determine form and in substance would begin on November 18.
“Since the MOA-AD is a new issue, it should be treated as a new complaint against the President,” Defensor said in a phone interview when asked about the fate of the petition.
“We cannot accept it as an additional charge to the original complaint, otherwise, anybody can just file any motion and add a new charge to the complaint,” he added.
However, Defensor said the motion filed would have no effect on the original complaint.
A line echoed in this snipped from the Philippine Star report linked to above:
But the latest impeachment complaint didn’t sit well among members of the 28-man House minority bloc, particularly Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casino, who both endorsed the De Venecia impeachment complaint.
“We who endorsed the first complaint respect the right of the proponents to include the MOA-AD, but we refrain from endorsing it lest it prejudices the complaint we endorsed,” said Ocampo, former spokesman of the communist wing National Democratic Front.
“This is because any addition or amendment to the original complaint will most likely be treated by the (House) justice committee as a separate complaint, as was done in prior cases,” he pointed out.
In the past I’ve written in my column about my belief that the BJE-MOA should have been included in the impeachment complaint. Together with some bloggers and other individuals, we decided to do something about it.
Please read this document. We have signed it. We stand by it. We submitted it, today, to the Secretary-General of the House of Representatives so that it may fortify the impeachment case against the President of the Philippines. I cannot express the reasons why we had to do this, better than The Marocharim Experiment did, in his blog entry for today:
Clenched fists mean a lot of things, not the least of which is fighting. The clenched fist is a symbol of resistance. To clench your fist means to stand up for what’s right because you believe in it, not because you feel like it…
…I think that when you blog about political issues and social issues, you cannot treat citizenship, political participation, and social obligation from your blogging. When we say something or write about something, we should be able to act on it when the situation calls for it. Our words shouldn’t be empty; we should be able to stand by our principles. It’s not a matter of winning or losing, revolution or insurrection, cost or benefit…
…I was just doing what any free-thinking Filipino will do. I was just doing things out of principle. I signed that document because of my convictions, not for money, not for ambition. I’m just a twenty-something who makes an honest living.
I signed that document because I believe that it is right, and I believe that it is time. Revolution? To some, yes, but to me, it was a simple matter of doing the right thing.
It’s not easy to stand up for what you believe in. Sure, it’s easy to blog about your political beliefs, but it’s not easy to stand by them when the time calls for it. After all, people will just accuse you of being “used by power-grabbers.” People will call you names, people will look down on your convictions, perhaps even spit on it.— Or mock it. Or tell you to shut up, because you can’t do anything about it…
…The question is not who we will replace the President with, but to find the President guilty or not guilty of the charges pressed against her. Not the least of which is the charge that she deceived the public – and compromised the integrity and sovereignty of the Philippines – through the BJE MOA-AD. If she is, I believe that she should face the fair and just consequences of her actions. I believe that justice is not about personalities, but about doing the right thing.
Those are the things I believe/ I believe in doing the right thing. I may not do it all the time, but when I signed that document – even with painful hands – I knew I did the right thing. If I didn’t, what would be my excuse? It’s not because I’m a hero or because I’m a martyr, but because I am a Filipino…
…Had you been there, you would have felt the same thing, perhaps even made up an excuse to chicken out and forsake your responsibility to this nation. I know: I was that close to doing it. What motivated me was not a sense of blow-hard patriotism, but a sense of obligation. People lived and died that this country remain whole, united, strong, and be held under one flag. What, I ask, prevents me from doing the same thing?What’s my excuse? What makes me think for one second that only heroes and patriots, or politicians with official ambitions, have the right to speak out against the injustices and excesses of the regime?
Now, I think it’s time for our honorable Members of the House to do the right thing. It is not right to wait for the President to finish her term; what is right is whether she has two years left or two days left, she should be held accountable. The Members of the House should know that justice is not about numbers or pluralities, but about morals and sensibilities. It is about fairness, justice, and freedom: words and perspectives that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo no longer represents, at least in my eyes.
Let me tell you about what transpired after the brief press conference concluded. We went to the Secretary-General’s office, but once there, a problem came up. She was, at first, reluctant to receive our document. Closed-door consultations took place, phone calls were made, at times, our legal counsel were asked to wait outside.
Everyone tried to keep themselves entertained.
The elder intervenors texted or chatted.
The media and I exchanged notes on House procedures, and I decided to have a bit of a look-see.
So much for the separation of Church and State!
But what I found most interesting were the items posted on the Secretary-General’s cork board.
Various official notices, and a page of statistics on the current composition of the House; and most intriguing of all:
This editorial cartoon on the BJE-MOA!
As media people hovered outside the Secretary-General’s door, the wrangling continued.
From what I gathered, the Secretary-General first asked for time to “read the document,” then a legal wrangle ensued over whether she had “jurisdiction” over the intervention. Now the Secretary-General is in charge of the secretariat of the House, and her job is to oversee the expeditious reception, filing, transmission and filing of documents. She is not supposed to make judgement calls about the documents themselves.
In the end, after close to 45 minutes of bringing our lawyers in, sending them out, consulting upstairs and sideways in the House hierarchy, the Secretary-General announced she would receive the document, as the intervention was “unprecedented,” and leave the fate of the document to the relevant committees of the House.
And so she received them, and everyone got to go home.
A word on the role bloggers played in putting this document forward for the consideration of the House.
Among those who signed this document are the following bloggers, who have decided to take their personal stands not just in the blogosphere but in the institutions of our nation.
Here is the statement I read a the press conference on behalf of the bloggers who signed:
Unang-una sa lahat, ang mga naniniwala na ang impeachment ay isang “numbers game,” ay may mentalidad ng isang tuta na sunud-sunuran at hindi ginagamit ang pag-iisip bilang isang tao.
Ang Kongreso ay may dalawang bahagi – ang Kamara de Representates, at ng Senado.
Kapag ang isang Presidente ay may hinaharap na sakdal tungkol sa kanyang mga gawain bilang punong ehekutibo, ang Kamara ay ang tumatanggap ng mga akusasyon laban sa Pangulo, at gumagampan ng pag-aaral ng ebidensya upang makilatis kung ito ay masusustansya at kung ito ay dapat ipursigi at litisin sa Senado.
Bilang mga pangkaraniwang mamamayan, bilang mga blogger, beterano, sibilyan, Kristiyano, at Muslim, kami ay naniniwala na obligasyon namin na patibayin ng husto ang mga paratang laban sa Pangulo ng Pilipinas.
Sa aming pananaw ay dapat bigyan atensiyon ng Kamara ang isyu ng BJE-MOA sa pagitan ng Pangulo at ng MILF, ukol sa Mindanao. Ang usapang ito ay nabuo na may pahintulot ng Pangulo; ang sinasaad nito ay idineklara ng Korte Suprema na labag sa Saligang Batas. Kung hindi pumasok sa usapin ang Korte Suprema, marahil ay nagkapirmahan na sana sa Kuala Lumpur, sapagkat bukod sa inaprobahan ang kasunduang ito ng Pangulo, ay ipinahintulutan pa niya ang kanyang mga kinatawan na mangumbida ng mga representante ng iba’t ibang bansa sa Kuala Lumpur.
Tinutulan ang BJE-MOA na ito ng maraming residente ng Mindanao – lalong-lalo na ang mga Kristiyano at ang kanilang mga opisyales; ang iba naman, tulad ng ating mga Kapatid na Muslim, ay umasa na may kongkretong usapan sila ng Pangulo ngunit sila ay basta na lamang tinalikuran. Maaaring wala talaga siyang intensyon na ipatupad ang kanilang usapan, at sinadya niyang itago ang kasunduang ito sa mamamayan upang masabi niya na hindi naman nya ito maitutuloy sa dahilang hindi pa hinog ang panahon.
May panindigan o pananaw man o wala ang ordinaryong mamamayan sa usapang ito, ang naidulot lamang nito ay perwisyo at sakuna: sa buhay, ari-arian, kapayapaan at ekonomiya hindi lang ng Mindanao, kundi ng buong Pilipinas.
Ang ibig sabihin nito ay ginawang laruan ng Pangulong Arroyo ang buong Mindanao dahil lamang sa paghahanap ng malulusutan upang isulong ang pag-amyenda sa Saligang Batas o ang Cha-Cha.
Ang ibig sabihin nito ay inilagay sa peligro ng Pangulong Arroyo ang lahat ng naninirahan sa Mindanao dahil lamang sa kanyang mga ambisyon.
Kung kaya’t dahil sa mga ikinilos at ginawa niya; sa paglabag niya sa Saligang Batas; sa pagtalikod nya sa kanyang sinumpaang obligasyon na protektahan at depensahan ang Saligang Batas; sa paglihim niya sa mamamayang Pilipino ng mga patungkol sa mga probisyon na nais niyang isulong sa kasunduan; sa malinaw na panloloko niya sa mga kapatid nating Muslim; sa maraming nasawi or nabawian ng buhay na sibilyan at militar; at dahil sa kaguluhang idinulot nya sa Mindanao; ay pinaninindigan namin na dapat maisama sa impeachment complaint ang usapin na ito.
Ayun kay Atty. Neri Colmenares, kailangan lang namin ma-isumite ang interbensyon na ito, upang maaksyunan ng Kamara. Hindi na daw kailangan i-endorse ito ng sinumang diputado o kinatawan. Kami ay naniniwala kay Atty. Colmenares at sa mga kinatawan ng oposisyon sa Kamara.
Ngunit nananawagan pa din kami na kung maaari, sa darating na Lunes, ika-17 ng Nobyembre, ay i-endorse pa rin ng mga kinatawan ng oposisyon ang aming inihahain na dokumento na siyang pinagaralan namin at nilagdaan bilang pagpapatunay na ito ay ang aming panindigan. Kung kaya’t umaasa kami na sana ito rin ang maging panindigan ng mga kongresista sa oposisyon at ng mga kinatawan na miyembro ng mayoriya, na tumutol sa kasunduang BJE-MOA.
Sa paraan na ito, ay mawawakasan na ang bangayan sa ating lipunan, mabibgyan ng pagkakataon ang Pangulo na sagutin ang mga paratang sa kanya, at makakasiguro ang Kongreso at ang taong-bayan na hindi nagtatago ang Pangulo sa likod ng kanyang mga patakbuhin.
Ang impeachment ay hindi nasasakluban ng executive privilege. Walang executive privilege ang impeachment. Kung tatalakayin ng tapat at ng walang kinikilingan ang mga paratang na nasasaloob sa impeachment complaint, kung pakikinggan ng wasto ang mga testigo, at kung pag-aaralang mabuti ang mga ebidensyang inihain ng mga complainant sa Kamara, ay makasisiguro tayo na magwawakas rin ang alitan ng administrasyon at oposisyon at ang pagkakahati ng ating mamamayan.
Nananawagan po kami sa sambayanang Pilipino na sana ay suportahan ang aming interbensyon.
Nais po naming magpasalamat sa lahat ng mga tumulong sa amin, sila Joey de Venecia, ang mga bloggers na lumagada, ang mga kapatid naming Muslim na siya ring lumagda, ang mga taga iba’t ibang hanay ng oposisyon na tumulong upang maging masustansya at matibay ang interbensyon na ito.
Pagkatapos naming isumite itong intervention na ito ay padadalhan namin ang bawat miyembro ng oposisyon ng kopya ng dokumento.
Kami ay nananampalataya na sa Lunes ay i-endorse na rin nila, kahit hindi kinakailangan, bilang pagpapatunay na buo ang loob at sentimyento nila na panagutin ang Pangulong Arroyo sa kanyang paglabag sa ating Saligang Batas at sa mga katiwalian niyang ginawa at patuloy na ginagawa.
Maraming Salamat po. Mabuhay po Kayo.
And here is the cover letter attached to CD-ROMs containing this document, which will be provided members of the House minority bloc. The bloggers have asked the House minority to reply, by Monday, stating whether they will fight for this intervention or not; and inviting them to formally endorse it as a stand they will take. Some fellow columnists and I have also asked them to answer two questions.
November ___, 2008
Representative, ____ District, ________
House of Representatives
Quezon City Dear
Today, together with ____ other intervenors, I have filed an intervention to add the Memorandum of Agreement concerning the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity to the impeachment charges being considered by the House. Our intervention is based on the following premises:
1. That the House of Representatives, in deliberating upon the charges against the President of the Philippines, should strive to put together as strongand comprehensive a case as possible, in order to properly and thoroughly address all the issues that demand accountability from the chief executive.
2. That the citizenry is obligated to do its part to help fortify the case against the President of the Philippines.
We are of the opinion, and submit for your consideration and endorsement, that:
1. The President of the Philippines must be held accountable for violating her oath of office in authorizing and supporting an agreement that has been proven to be contrary to the Constitution. Any President is duty-bound to operate within the parameters established by the Constitution, and when a President deliberately disregards our Constitution’s provisions, there must be an accounting made to the citizenry.
2. The President must therefore be held accountable for what the Supreme Court has ruled to be an agreement that violated our Constitution.
3. That furthermore, the President must be held accountable for setting back the peace process; and for placing ordinary citizens, Muslim and Christian alike, in Mindanao, in peril because of the recklessness and faithlessness, with which she conducted the negotiations for the agreement. She has done grevious harm to the prosperity and tranquility of Mindanao and the entire country and her doing so is a violation of public trust and her Constitutional responsibilities.
She betrayed the public, and all the parties that participated in the peace process in good faith and with a historic resolution of ancient grievances in mind. We believe that we have made a strong case for including the BJE-MOA among the charges against the President.
We believe that this is a matter of such seriousness as to require the House of Representatives providing the President with an opportunity to explain herself to you, our representatives, and through you, to an alarmed and outraged public.
We further believe that the President will find it impossible to satisfactorily explain herself and that as a consequence, the House will find it necessary to include our intervention among the impeachment charges.
May I respectfully invite you, then, to endorse our intervention, so that ample opportunity may be provided for the President of the Philippines to air her side, and for the public to be informed, through you, once and for all, about the circumstances surrounding the agreement.
I am confident that you will respond to the overwhelming clamor of the citizenry, throughout the country but particularly in Mindanao, for public policy to be conducted in good faith, without recklessness and imprudence, and with the true interests of the nation at heart and not just partisan political convenience for the administration.
May I also invite you, on behalf of myself and my colleagues, Jarius Bondoc and William Esposo of the Philippine Star, Ellen Tordesillas of Malaya, and Manuel Buencamino of The Business Mirror, to state, for the record, your response to these two questions:
1. How do you intend to vote on the impeachment complaint already filed before the House? Will you be present at the committee level and plenary voting on these charges?
2. Are you in favor of including the BJE-MOA among the impeachment charges, and why or why not.
We trust you will give your answer to us by Wednesday so we can publish them.
And we further trust that you will find our intervention meritorious and worthy of your endorsement.