All set for Aquino impeachment hearings

Philippine President Benigno Aquino gestures as he speaks to reporters on the sidelines of an Asia-Europe meeting in Manila on June 5, 2014.

Minority lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Saturday expressed readiness to defend the three impeachment complaints they endorsed against President Benigno Aquino III in spite of avowals by administration allies to block them.

The House leadership is poised to refer the impeachment complaints against Mr. Aquino over the voided Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (Edca) to the justice committee at the plenary session on Monday.

"Presently, we in Makabayan are as ready as we can be to discuss and defend the merits of the impeachment complaints at the House justice committee deliberations," said Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon, who endorsed the second complaint against Aquino filed by youth groups.

"These past weeks, we have carefully prepared for the upcoming impeachment hearing," he said in a statement.

But Malacañang on Friday remained unperturbed over the impeachment complaint filed against President Aquino.

"We will find out what their allegations are and how the Committee on Justice would look at them. Let's see how it will progress because we have always said from the beginning that it's really the truth that should come out when it comes to matters of impeachment," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said on Friday over government-run Radio ng Bayan.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte reportedly transmitted the impeachment proceedings against the President to Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales III, chair of the Committee on Rules, for inclusion of the complaints in the order of business and subsequent referral to the Justice Committee.

Ridon said the impeachment proceedings "are expected to begin shortly after" the complaints are referred to the committee.

Ridon said the Makabayan bloc remained "unflustered" by declarations from ruling coalition leaders that any impeachment complaint would be quashed.

"Even if there are some quarters who blindly seek to block the impeachment proceedings without first hearing the merits of the case, I and my colleagues in Makabayan remain unflustered. We believe that the case against Aquino is strong," Ridon said.The lawmaker also appealed to the House justice committee chaired by Iloilo Rep. Neil Tupas, an Aquino ally, to consider the merits of the impeachment complaints and refrain from junking the cases just because of party affiliation.

"Fiat justitia ruat caelum-Let justice be done though the heavens fall. I urge my colleagues sitting in the House Justice Committee to listen and consider the arguments we will present during the impeachment proceedings," Ridon said.

"They should not play blind, deaf, and mute to the travesties committed by the president," he said.

Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Fernando Hicap, who endorsed one of the impeachment complaints, said the people should continue the clamour to demand accountability from officials, including Mr. Aquino, who masterminded the DAP, a stimulus package declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The lawmaker also assailed the Liberal Party-backed push to extend Mr. Aquino's term as President.

"Anakpawis condemns the second term pitch cooked up by Aquino yellow minions in Congress to save their principal for possible jail term for violating the Constitution," Hicap said.

"This kind of action speaks of their desperation to avoid accountability," he said.

"The people should continue the clamour for accountability of all those who benefited from and who masterminded the DAP, including President Aquino," Hicap said.

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