PNoy ally wants probe on SONA walkout

Posted at 07/30/14 4:13 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo yesterday urged the House of Representatives ethics committee to look into the walkout of seven party-list representatives before President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

Castelo said such an act amounted to misconduct, which is within the jurisdiction of the ethics committee.

“It was an act of disrespect not only to the President but also to the people they represent,” he added.

Those who walked out of the House session hall before Aquino was ushered in to deliver his SONA were Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, Luzviminda Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela, Terry Ridon of Kabataan, Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis and Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers.

Speaking for the group, Ridon said: “We are well within our right to refuse hearing the President’s continuing and obstinate defense of the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program).”

“Any ethics complaint would be without any factual or legal basis,” he added.

The seven lawmakers endorsed three impeachment complaints filed by several groups and private citizens led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo.

The House is expected to refer the complaints to its committee on justice shortly for scrutiny.

The complainants accuse Aquino of alleged culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust based largely on his controversial DAP, parts of which the Supreme Court has declared as unconstitutional.

One complaint questions the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement the Philippine government has entered into with the United States.

At least two of the impeachment endorsers, Colmenares and Tinio, have admitted receiving fund allocations that turned out to have been sourced from DAP. Colmenares was allocated P25 million, while Tinio was allotted P10 million.

Colmenares and Tinio said they were not informed that the funds came from the DAP. As far as they were concerned, they said their allocations were part of the Priority Development Assistance Program, the congressional pork barrel, which the Supreme Court also struck down as unconstitutional ahead of the DAP. – With Danny Dangcalan