Jul 062014
Lawyer Oliver Lozano will have to act on his own in filing the impeachment complaint he drafted against President Benigno Aquino III after Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon decided not to endorse his submission for being “grossly insufficient in form and substance.”

According to the lawmaker, the arguments Lozano indicated in his impeachment suit were “weak” and would not even stand a cursory review of the House Committee on Justice.

“While we appreciate Atty. Lozano’s effort in producing an impeachment complaint ahead of everyone, we believe his 5-page verified complaint contains weak arguments and failed to meet the stringent standards set by the Constitution,” Ridon said in a statement Sunday.

The former lawyer of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos submitted a copy of his draft impeachment suit to Ridon’s office in the House of Representatives Friday for endorsement.

Lozano’s impeachment complaint cited Aquino’s involvement in the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), his failure to address the Zamboanga siege, and the problems brought about by Typhoon Yolanda as bases for his removal from office.

Ridon admitted he thought of including Lozano’s complaint in the consolidated impeachment case his party-list and other youth groups are planning to file against Aquino, but thought otherwise when he reviewed the document.

“The discussion of substantive matters were too general. Atty. Lozano did not even mention why Aquino committed culpable violation of the Constitution through the DAP [Disbursement Acceleration Program],” he said.

The DAP is a multi-billion-peso discretionary fund that became controversial after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada revealed last year that several senators received P50 million to P100 million after the conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona by the Senate impeachment court.

Parts of the program have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

No endorsement from Makabayan bloc

Without Ridon’s endorsement, Lozano will have to look for another House member to support his impeachment complaint.

Under the Constitution, impeachment complaints may be filed by any House member or any citizen, provided he or she obtains a lawmaker’s endorsement.

The complaint will be included in the House’s Order of Business within 10 session days after it has been received by the Office of the Secretary General. It will then be referred to the House justice committee for deliberation.

Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc, however, are adamant about ignoring Lozano’s impeachment suit.

“As far as I know, other party-list lawmakers under Makabayan are also not keen on endorsing Atty. Lozano’s complaint,” Ridon said.

Lozano has been tagged as a “serial” filer of impeachment cases since he previously filed impeachment complaints against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The suits, however, did not prosper at the House of Representatives.

Some critics believed then that his complaints were nuisance suits meant to trump more substantial impeachment complaints.  According to the Constitution, only one impeachment case may be filed against the President every year.

Malversation raps vs. Abad

Despite the absence of Lozano’s complaint, Ridon said his group and other youth organizations will proceed with filing an impeachment case against Aquino over the Disbursement on July 14.

They are also planning to file malversation charges against Budget Secretary Florencio Abad before the Office of the Ombudsman on July 8.

Ridon said Abad committed malversation because he was instrumental in implementing the DAP.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and other allies of the Aquino administration earlier said the President cannot be impeached over DAP because the program was implemented with “good faith and sincere intentions.

Eleven lawmakers who claim to represent powerful blocs in the House also announced they will block any impeachment case that may be initiated against Aquino. Xianne Arcangel/BM, GMA News

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