Philippine President Aquino headed for downward spiral, says House minority

President Benigno Aquino III.

MANILA, Philippines-The minority bloc in the House of Representatives foresees a downward spiral in the last 500 days of President Aquino's term after his approval ratings took a nose dive amid the fallout from the Mamasapano fiasco.

"He's now clearly going down and the speed of his going down will be determined by what he does or does not do; it's still up to him," Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora said.

"He's got tons of advisers giving him, I'm sure, every sort of advice. We won't do that. He's only got a few hundred days left," Zamora said when asked what the President should do to arrest his ratings decline.

Zamora, however, said Aquino should be able to serve out his term until June next year, albeit a much less popular figure than when he began it.

Better way

"He's still president of the Philippines and will be until June 30. If he pays a little more attention to the issues at hand, if he is to take up these issues rather than think of legacy projects or legacy initiatives, maybe that would be the better way.

"People expect he will be president until he leaves office," Zamora said.

Thus, any talk of impeachment is premature, he added.

"This is a discussion we don't want to get into. This is only for the record. Let's talk real sense-there's a live impeachment complaint that's not been disposed of," he said, referring to the set of impeachment complaints against Aquino that was dismissed by the justice committee in September.

Those complaints "are still live," according to Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, since they were never tabled for debate on the plenary floor.

A one-third vote of the 290-strong chamber is needed to reverse the decision of the committee.

One-year wait

Alliance of Concerned Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said justice committee chair Niel Tupas Jr. told him the earliest a new impeachment complaint could be filed against President Aquino was Aug. 11, owing to the ban on filing more than one impeachment complaint per year.

He said the findings of the police Board of Inquiry and the Senate could be a basis for impeaching Aquino.

"I think we should file, if only for a historical record, to show that there was a violation of the Constitution here," Tinio said.

The two reports found that Aquino broke the chain of command when he allowed suspended Director General Alan Purisima to remain in charge of the police operation to arrest two high-value targets in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on Jan. 25.

The operation resulted in a bloody clash between the police Special Action Force (SAF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other armed groups.

The outcome was 44 SAF troopers, 17 MILF rebels and three civilians dead.

Malacanang, however, remained confident the President would be able to overcome the challenges in the last 14 months of his term.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said "it's part of the job description to deal with challenges like this," referring to the Mamasapano debacle.