WHEN President Benigno S. Aquino III (PNoy) dared the general public to file an impeachment case against him on Wednesday, “if they think it’s the right thing to do,” social media was inundated with mixed feedback.
Some netizens were very vocal about their opinions in ousting the president; others opined that it’s the system that needs to be changed and improved, and that impeaching the president would only aggravate the situation.
Among lawmakers (and former lawmakers), feedback is a mixed bag.
Former senator Joker Arroyo prefers the scrapping of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) — after it has been revealed that over P1 billion of its funds were distributed in October 2012 to senators (allegedly called bribes) only months after the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“The DAP is the unfortunate progeny of a misadventure at the DBM (Department of Budget and Management). It should simply be abolished,” Arroyo said.
He added that abolishing the DAP would not require legislative action, given that it was not created by Congress.
“It has no father. All that has to be done is for the President to stop the releases under DAP and proclaim the DAP window closed,” Arroyo said.
On the issue of impeaching the president, Arroyo said: “Impeach the President?” Let us not trivialize the process of impeachment. When overused, it is drained of its cathartic value and it becomes terribly stale. I have always maintained that not every misstep of an impeachable officer is impeachable.”
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago thinks otherwise.
According to the outspoken senator, PNoy can be impeached “on grounds of culpable violation of the Constitution or bribery over the release of funds to lawmakers under the DAP,” reports Philstar.com.
However, Santiago agrees with Manila Auxiliary Bishop Pabillo, when he said that impeaching the president would only become “a political exercise and it would not search for the truth. It would all be just politics.”
Pabillo reasoned that PNoy’s control over the pork barrel gives him a stronghold among many lawmakers.
“It would be difficult to file a case against the sitting President,” he said. “Maybe later a case can be filed against him once he steps down from Malacañang.”
Santiago agrees with Pabillo, saying that the president “cannot be impeached in practice because he controls the House and the Senate.”
But she advises Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to resign from office “out of propriety.”
“We all want President Aquino to succeed, we just don’t want him to listen to wrong advice,” she said.
Sen. JV Ejercito said it would be difficult to impeach PNoy because “ you cannot impeach a very popular President.”
Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives expressed that there are no grounds to impeach the president.
“He is enjoying wide support among lawmakers, including senators, and among our people. There is no chance for an impeachment complaint against him to prosper. Remember that impeachment is largely a political process,” said Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Jr. of Dasmariñas City, Cavite.
According to Barzaga, complaints about the usage of DAP funds by the Aquino administration would have to be proven illegal and that it should also be proven that it was the president who committed the illegal act. He also added that whether the funds were used illegally is still debatable, since the president is “authorized to augment appropriations in the national budget by drawing from yearend savings,” says Philstar.com.
Assuming that the DAP funds were used illegally and that the illegal act was committed by the president, it would still require that such act constitutes “culpable violation of the Constitution,” — one of the grounds for impeachment.
Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said that members of the House are not inclined to engage in “laborious and divisive impeachment complaint,” adding that they would rather “move on with a life without pork barrel, fulfill our mandate to enact those proposed measures that are on the table, and restore the people’s confidence in Congress, which has been admittedly hit hard by the pork barrel scam.”
Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco said that: “The DAP is all about prudence in governance dictated by a unique philosophy of daang matuwid (straight path) resulting in global best practices resulting in strong macroeconomic fundamentals that is gaining international investor attention.”
It’s all about balancing the country’s debt equity and current account, and increasing our Gross International Reserves,” he added.
Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas sees it as an attempt by PNoy’s foes “to discredit the President’s determined effort to get to the bottom of the P10-billion pork barrel scam.”
Other lawmakers see the impeachment issue as a “diversionary tactic” to veer public attention and scrutiny away from the pork barrel scam.
While the government is embattled with several controversies, an infuriated general public juggling with simultaneous issues will only cause more chaos.
Let us not formulate haphazard judgments and opinions based on propaganda alone.
And while it seems that social media is the quickest way to gather information on these issues, it is not always the best source.
As netizens and citizens, let us remain level-headed and well-informed. And most of all, let us not allow politicking or diversionary tactics to cloud our judgment.

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