AKBAYAN still wants Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo impeached

August 2, 2006 at 5:02 pm Leave a comment

We’ve been asked several times why AKBAYAN is still pushing for the impeachment complaint, when it appears that the process is doomed. Here’s a speech I delivered today to answer those questions.

On Impeaching President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Privilege Speech
AKBAYAN Representative Ana Theresia Hontiveros-Baraquel
Delivered August 2, 2006

Ginoong Speaker, mga ginagalang na kapwa kinatawan, magandang hapon sa inyong lahat! I rise today on a matter that continues to divide this chamber bitterly.

Ginoong Speaker, immediately after the filing of the first impeachment complaint against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo this year, pro-administration legislators quickly announced the demise of the exercise. Several other complaints that contain the same allegations have been filed since June 26, 2006, and, without even looking into the details and contents of the complaints, they were instantly dismissed and readied by the House leadership for an early burial.

Based on what took place for the last twelve months, it is wise to presume that if the impeachment process this year gets shelved again for reasons other than a thorough consideration of the evidence being presented by the complainants, especially with the forthcoming elections.

More than a year since the ‘Hello Garci’ conversations have been made public, the political crisis that the controversy sparked continues to worsen. On the one hand, attempts to exact accountability from GMA have taken on various expressions – in the streets, in an impeachment process that was prematurely dismissed, and in restiveness in and an attempted peaceful withdrawal of support by elements in the military. The government, on the other hand, responded to each attempt through evasion, coercion and the use of government resources to secure the loyalty of its allies – all of which is done at the expense of our democracy and the imperatives of governance.

A year after Garci, and what we have now is a festering, protracted crisis that has paralyzed the country. Governance is now severely limited by whatever options that the GMA administration has in order to survive. Rather than engage the Senate in a constructive dialogue on the fate of the 2006 budget, it would rather take a hardline position and dismiss all efforts by Congress – the House of Representatives included 0 to exercise its oversight powers as examples of partisanship and political gridlock. If the Senate and the House of Representatives see surplussage in government spending, it is their duty to declare so and they are mandated to act accordingly.

The dangers facing Filipino migrant workers in Lebanon illustrate best how this political crisis has paralyzed our country. Amidst the urgency of evacuating Filipino workers away from the worsening situation in Lebanon and despite the supposed existence of funds for emergency repatriation under the Overseas Workers Welfare Admistration (OWWA), the money is still not to be found. It is feared that the borders of Lebanon will soon be closed down due to the expected ground assault by Israeli soldiers against Hezbollah. Despite these threats against our workers in Lebanon, the government has been dragging its feet in releasing the much-neede funds to bring home our workers, or at least bring them to safer ground. If GMA was able to order OWWA to release half a billion pesos to finance the PhilHealth cards that the government distributed prior to the 2004 eletions, what’s then is the sense of dilly-dallying now, when the immediate release of the fund is extremely necessary?

A couple of days ago, another journalist and two more left activist were killed. Is this what GMA meant when she said that she condems extrajudicial killings? Or do these deaths symbolize yet another debt of gratitude to Gen. Palparan that GMA has to praise in her next speech?

The political crisis would not go away without the truth being known and without sincere promises of radical reforms and meaningful change in our politics. This is reality that each member of the House of Representatives-whether one is from the opposition or from the majority-has to consider in their decision onh the new impeachment complaint. This is the same reality that the House leadership has to consider as it continues its push for charter change-without any credible answer to persistent question on GMA’s legitimacy, a new constitution would be a mere document alienated from the very people whose soul it seeks to represent. We need to address the crisis head-on.

AKBAYAN is campaigning for the impeachment of GMA and has endorsed, through AKBAYAN Rep. Etta Rosales, one of the complaints. We have also supported democratic expressions of dissent in the streets. As expected, our actions have been treated by the allies of the GMA administration with disdain and condescension. According to them, what could be our agenda other than to destabilize the country and jeopardize the economic momentum that GMA has diligently worked on? After all, why rehash old charges?

Ginoong Speaker, let me therefore take this opportunity to lay down the agenda behind AKBAYAN’s push for GMA’s impeachment. We have been very transparent with our agenda such that it is even available in our website and no so-called “Left-Right conspiracy” has to be concocted to understand why we are taking this position.

AKBAYAN envisions a Philippines where all workers enjoy full employment. We want or doctors and nurses to practice their profession here, where their help is badly needed. We hope our teachers are in front of Filipino children, teaching them how to read and write, and not in foreign lands where they are appreciated for their capacity to fulfill domestic duties. We want our young workers to build our industries through innovation, and not through the mimicry of foreign accents in call centers.

AKBAYAN also wants relevant and modern social services, particularly in health care and education. Only 30% of Filipinos have access to essential medicines, while a significant number of Filipinos die without even having the chance of seeing a doctor. We are aspiring for an educational system where the goal of liberation from ignorance, and not markets, determines how and what we teach our youth.

We want a truly democratic and a more representative political system. We hope that our party system can be transformed such that the basis of political unity is not tactical access to resources or electoral machinery, but rather programs and political persuasions, so that they are able to effectively gather the aspirations of our people and transform them into concrete government programs. We want our political institutions to be more representative, and not mere platforms to control and retain political power.

What, then, is destabilizing about our agenda? It surely destabilizes corrupt practices in government, or the deficits in our democracy. Beyond that, we firmly believe that our aspirations resonate in the hearts of the Filipino people. Even the impeachment, which has been the subject of so many print advertisements from the allies of the administration, is supported by 56% of the Filipino people, as revealed today by a Pulse Asia survey.

We are aware, Mr. Speaker, that we will never be able to achieve our agenda by ignoring this sad episode in our democracy. We need to exact accountability from GMA to ferret out the truth because it is useless to move on without the wisdom that this political crisis has to impart. More than ever, Congress as an institution has to reclaim its stake to sieve the truth from all the lies that this nation has been subjected to.

Let me end by challenging the members of this chamber to look at the impeachment complaint as a necessary exercise of our collective conscience and an extension of good faith. Whether one is from the majority or the minority, our position on the impeachment complaint should be guided by our desire for truth and not by political vendetta or the perks that are promised for one’s loyalty to GMA. After coming full circle, putting an end to the political crisis is once again in our hands. Ginoong Speaker, mga ginagalang na kapwa kinatawan, let us not fail the nation once again.

Magandang gabi sa inyong lahat.

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Entry filed under: AKBAYAN in Congress, Speeches.

Sending Philippine soldiers to Lebanon ‘suicidal’

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AKBAYAN Party

Party of the future

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Office of AKBAYAN Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel
Rm. 611, Southwing, House of Representatives
Batasan Hills, Quezon City
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