POSTSCRIPT / November 9, 2000 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Check here if your solon signed for impeachment

WE have gathered for Postscript readers the names of the 78 congressmen who signed under oath last Monday the impeachment charges against President Estrada. That day, the House justice committee voted in a stormy meeting to endorse the charge sheet to the plenary session.

We have also listed separately the 35 other congressmen who signed afterwards, raising the number of signatories to 113. The total number is way above the 73 minimum (a third of the 218 membership of the House) required to shoot impeachment charges straight to the Senate for trial.

Check if your congressman is on the lists, which are arranged alphabetically. To save on space, we used only their family names, adding their initials if there are other congressmen with the same surname. But we indicated their district so there will be no mistaking who they are.

* * *

THESE were the 78 representatives who had signed under oath the impeachment charges as of Monday, thereby expediting the justice committee’s endorsement of the charges to the plenary body:

Abad (LD Batanes), Abaya (1D Cavite), Abueg Jr. (2D Palawan),Almario (2D Davao Oriental), Alvarez, H. (4D Isabela), Andaya Jr., R.(1D Camarines Sur), Apostol (2D Leyte), Aquino III, B. (2D Tarlac),Arroyo (1D Makati City), Aumentado (2D Bohol), Badelles (1D Lanao del Norte), Baterina (1D Ilocos Sur),

Belmonte Jr. (4D Quezon City), Braganza (1D Pangasinan), Bunye (LD Muntinlupa City), Cagas (1D Davao del Sur), Candazo (LD Marikina City), Cayetano (LD Pateros-Taguig), Cosalan (LD Benguet), Cruz, B. (BUTIL), Datumanong (2D Maguindanao), Defensor (3DQuezon City), Del Mar (1D Cebu City), Dominguez (LD Mt. Province),

Duterte (1D Davao City), Echiverri (1D Caloocan), Ermita (1D Batangas),Fajardo (3D Nueva Ecija), Garcia Jr., E. (2D Bataan), Garcia, M. (2D Davao City), Golez (LD Parañaque City), Gonzales, R. M. (LD Iloilo City), Gordon Jr. (1D Zambales), Gullas (1D Cebu), Gunigundo (LD Valenzuela City), Herrera, E.F. (1D Bohol),

Jaafar (LD Tawi-Tawi), Lagman-Luistro (1D Albay), Ledesma IV (1D Negros Occidental), Leviste (1D Oriental Mindoro), Liban (2D Quezon City), Libarios (2D Agusan del Norte), Lozada Jr. (5D Negros Occidental),Madrona (LD Romblon), Martinez (4D Cebu), Moreno (1D Misamis Oriental), Nachura (2D Western Samar), Nieva (1D Manila),

Osabel (ALAGAD), Padilla, C. (LD Nueva Viscaya), Paez (COOP-NATCCO), Paras (1D Negros Oriental), Pichay Jr. (1D Surigao del Sur),Pilapil (VFP), Punzalan Jr. (2D Quezon), Ramiro Jr. (2D Misamis Occidental), Recto (4D Batangas), Reyes Jr., E. (LD Marinduque), Rosales (AKBAYAN), Salapuddin (LD Basilan),

Sandoval II, F. (LD Malabon-Navotas), Sandoval, V. (1D Palawan),Sarenas (ABANSE PINAY), Sarmiento, A. (4D Bulacan),  Sarmiento, R. (1D Compostela Valley), Shahani (6D Pangasinan), Suplico (5D Iloilo), Sy-Alvarado (1D Bulacan), Tañada (4D Quezon),

Urro (1D Zamboanga del Sur), Verceles Jr. (LD Catanduanes), Vicencio(2D Northern Samar), Villar Jr. (LD Las Piñas City), Wacnang (LD Kalinga), Yotoko-Villanueva (3D Negros Occidental), Young (PROMDI), Zartiga (AKO), and Zubiri (3D Bukidnon).

* * *

AS of yesterday, 35 more congressmen joined the original 78 signatories, catching the impeachment papers before they are deliberated on by the entire House convening on Monday in plenary session.

The additional signatories were: Acosta (1D Bukidnon), Adiong (1D Lanao del Sur), Alvarez, P. (1D Davao Del Norte), Amatong (2D Compostela Valley), Amin (1D Sulu), Andaya M. (2D Oriental Mindoro), Angping (3D Manila), Bacani (4D Manila), Barbers (2D Surigao Del Norte), Bautista (2D Davao Del Sur), Bondoc (4D Pampanga), Bulut (LD Apayao), Cuenco (2D Cebu City), Eballe (APEC), Enrile Jr. (1D Cagayan), Floirendo (2D Davao Del Norte), Fua Jr. (LD Siquijor), Garin(1D Iloilo),

Gonzales, R.F. (2D Sorsogon), Jacob (2D Camarines Sur), Jala (3D Bohol), Laurel IV (3D Batangas), Lim (4D Pangasinan), Lopez, E. (LD Guimaras), Mangotara (2D Lanao Del Norte), Montemayor (ABA), Nepomuceno (1D Pampanga), Ocampo (6D Manila), Palma Gil (1D Davao Oriental), Pancho (2D Bulacan), Ponce Jr. (2D Manila), Reyes, R. (3D Isabela), Rodriguez, O. (3D Pampanga), Silos (APEC), and Tilanduca (2D Bukidnon).

* * *

FORMIDABLE forces, meanwhile, are busy at work both in the House and the Senate to derail the impeachment process.

While Erap Estrada claims, for public consumption, that he wants the impeachment trial to move without further delay, his minions in the House resort to dilatory tricks to block the process. Those who follow radio coverage of committee deliberations know what we mean.

If Erap really wants the process expedited to spare the country the stress and strain of prolonged political combat, he should tell his partymates and sympathizers in both chambers to work in that direction instead of throwing obstacles.

Otherwise, the nagging point persists: If Erap Estrada is indeed innocent as he claims, a speedy trial is the best route for him. Why then are his boys trying hard to derail the impeachment process?

* * *

THERE are many ways of skinning a cat, many creative ways of convincing a congressman to oppose impeachment.

One is the selective release of pork barrel, particularly at this time when the administration is already scraping the bottom of the barrel and everybody’s girding for an expensive local election next May.

Political favor is another, including past debts of gratitude and new commitments. A Central Luzon representative, for instance, suddenly refused to sign the impeachment papers after Malacañang convinced a serious contender to back out and allow the reelectionist solon to run unopposed next year.

* * *

ASIDE from the presidency, another institution that may be severely damaged by the political warfare raging around the impeachment issue is the Senate, which is assigned by the Constitution the task of trying an impeached president.

Even before the charge sheet has reached the chamber, the Senate was already rocked by contentious issues spawned by charges of Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson that President Estrada had pocketed some P500 million in jueteng  payola and tobacco taxes.

The inquiry into the Singson story has stoked partisan passions that roiled the comparatively pacific waters in the small chamber. This, followed by the impeachment process, is threatening to tear the Senate apart.

* * *

THE division of the house would have been more understandable were it confined to points validly raised during the Blue Ribbon hearings and the impending trial of the President. The chamber has come under a cloud with accusations by some of its own members that money is moving to influence the votes of some senators.

Senators can argue and differ all they want over legislative and even partisan issues, but for insinuations of big-time bribery to save Erap Estrada now polluting the atmosphere is bad for the Senate.

By a process of elimination based on their public statements and recent moves, the 22 senators are generally categorized now into 13 disposed to handing down a guilty verdict for the President, with nine identified with acquitting him.

One scenario in coffee shops, board rooms and even in barber shops has it that to save the President, a budget of one billion pesos would not be an overkill. The clincher is that this amount should be enough to keep the nine pro-Erap senators hewing to the defense line.

* * *

MEANTIME, as warnings are aired about midnight deals being rushed by the foundering Estrada administration, the President’s signing of an executive order has called attention to the multibillion-peso coconut levy fund that has accumulated over the years.

Rep. Bobby Tañada said: “I’m saddened that President Estrada signed an executive order not acceptable to the small coconut farmers. This is a big setback to their struggle to recover the coco levy funds because the new EO expressly repeals EO 277 and EO 481 that clearly declared that the coco levy funds are public funds.”

He said that with the new Estrada order, the levy “can now be said to have become private funds which need not even be subject to a COA audit.”

Tañada added that San Miguel shares bought with coco levy funds are the subject of a dispute between San Miguel Corp. and United Coconut Planters Bank pending in the Supreme Court. He asked how the disputed funds could be released and their proceeds used to establish the Coco Trust Fund meant to rehabilitate the coconut industry and help the coconut farmers.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 9, 2000)

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