POSTSCRIPT / July 6, 2014 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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Impeaching Aquino won’t solve the crisis

DAPPED: We are in such a big mess. We’ve been DAPped! So what do we do?

Whatever we decide to do, it better not be to impeach President Noynoy Aquino. In our view, such action would only sink us deeper into the quicksand.

In the first place, with both chambers of the Congress dominated by insatiable crocodiles feeding off Palace patronage, how could an impeachment complaint prosper?

Aside from the certainty of not achieving the supposed goal of removing President Noynoy Aquino from office, the cost to taxpayers of impeachment, threatened or actual, would be staggering.

We said “supposed goal,” because many of those screaming impeachment know that the move would not even reach first base in the House committee. It seems the intention is just to drag around and embarrass the President.

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COSTLY GAME: Early bird Oliver Lozano himself knows the futility of impeachment, but is impelled by the now-in-fashion “good faith”. He was last seen at the Ombudsman’s office peddling his template impeachment complaint against the President.

Lawmakers of the genus crocodylus should thank Lozano. Any hint of impeachment in the air usually triggers another feeding frenzy. We heard Malacañang’s war chest is still bulging with billions despite the outlawing of congressional and presidential pork.

Buying again the defensive support of more than half of the population of the House would be very costly for taxpayers. That hurts.

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MORE SLACK: It could be that most of the people’s representatives in the Congress are right in opposing impeachment.

A showdown could just expose the fact that the President, despite his shortcomings, still enjoys wide support in the countryside beyond the influence of the negative oppositionist talk in the national capital and a few urban centers.

Life in the provinces may not be entirely blissful, but with Filipinos being a hardy and optimistic species it could be that a vast majority of them are still willing to give the Aquino administration more slack.

While there are pockets of poverty here and there, we have not seen validated figures showing discontent so massive that it could spark the people power to shove President Aquino off the cliff.

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DISASTROUS TRIAL: It is noteworthy that Vice President Jojo Binay, the conceded standard bearer of the main opposition bloc in 2016, has spoken against impeaching the President.

This, of course, can be explained by his being the direct beneficiary of the removal of the president for any reason – and it does not look right for him to appear lusting after the office.

But there is also the fact that a prolonged impeachment House hearing in a charged atmosphere followed by a bruising trial in the Senate could be so divisive that the nation might come out of it bleeding profusely on its way to the intensive care unit.

In short, at this fragile point of national development, forcing a sure-to-fail impeachment may prove disastrous for the nation.

There are other less disconcerting ways of making Mr. Aquino pay for his sins.

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TAKE OUT ABAD: There is sufficient legal basis for impeaching the President after the Supreme Court affirmed that the Disbursement Acceleration Program that he had invented and used with Budget Secretary Florencio Abad violated the Constitution.

With political reality militating against a successful impeachment, one practical alternative could be to take legal action against key people who had conspired with or helped the President implement DAP.

Taking down the men around the President could isolate and expose him to follow-up action even beyond his term.

Right now, to spare the embattled President the burden of having to fire or defend him, Secretary Abad for one should take it upon himself to ask his boss to let him go.

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HIGHER GROUND: The President has taken the higher moral ground by announcing his taking full responsibility for what his subordinates in the Cabinet have done, upon his orders, involving the DAP.

Press Secretary Herminio Coloma explained: “In the final analysis, the President is the chief executive and the members of the Cabinet performed the role of alter ego, and whatever role that they perform is only an extension of the personality of the President himself.”

Asked if the buck stopped with the President, however, instead of saying a short and simple “Yes”, he replied, “I believe that is a principle that is well recognized.”

To consolidate the positive impact of his owning responsibility for his men’s actions, the President might want to issue a clear and short personal statement to that effect. That could even take the place of his saying “Sorry”.

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CLARK NOTES: Issues over selective prosecution and complaints of an uneven playing field for business came to mind when we heard comments last Friday that some tourists arriving at the Clark Freeport were being slapped discriminatory requirements.

There is reportedly a double standard in the grant of visas to foreign tourists. For instance, Indian nationals are charged entry visa fees when they enter via the Clark International Airport while those who land at the Manila International Airport are not.

This uneven treatment was mentioned by Alfredo Reyes, manager of Widus Hotel and Casino, in the weekly forum organized by the Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI)

Widus Hotel & Casino has mounted a P2-billion expansion program to corner a big slice of the growing visitor arrivals in the country, particularly at the Clark Freeport in Pampanga.

Reyes said the first phase of the hotel firm’s two-phase expansion is set for completion by August and October this year. That will add 300 to its 233-room capacity, as well as a grand lobby, a bigger casino area and a 2,000-capacity convention center that features a plenary hall with 800 seats similar to those on commercial airlines.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 6, 2014)

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