from newsbreak‘s glenda gloria: ‘Lp now a force to reckon with’
The overwhelming House vote for the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez proves two things: that the ruling Liberal Party is now a real force to reckon with and that President Aquino has been able to exercise political command without trying too hard.
“The impeachment project was a consolidating project for the LP, and they succeeded,” said Earl Parreño, a veteran House watcher and former journalist who’s now with the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (Iper). “After this consolidation phase, they could push for their reform agenda and if they do it well, it could only be good for the country.”
The victory becomes sweeter because the Iglesia ni Cristo pushed hard—but failed—to support the Ombudsman, according to a political ally of the President.
At total of 212 members of the House of Representatives voted to impeach Gutierrez for betrayal of public trust (see how they voted). This is 30 votes less than the total members of the ruling coalition—250. President Aquino earlier made it clear to his partymates that he wanted the Ombudsman out since he considered her an obstacle to honest governance.
The INC reportedly managed to persuade some solons to vote no, abstain or not register their votes. Among the 4 who abstained are relatives of senator-judges: Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado, wife of Sen. Bong Revilla, and Las Pinas Rep. Mark Villar, son of Sen. Manuel Villar.
… A senior government official close to the President told Newsbreak that they had about 4 estimates of how the voting would go—anywhere from 140 to 160 to close to 200, but never 200 or more. In the early headcount phase, the President even said he’d be content with just the 94 votes, according to this source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
i was surprised when gma showed up, looking rather woebegone. was her one vote perceived to be so important as to make a difference, be a tipping point maybe? when in fact wala pala silang kalaban-laban? i bet she regretted coming. manny pacquiao who stayed away but voted via twitter was way smarter. even if he got heckled online for his no vote, and of course his weird, and graceless, retort to why he was absent, serves him right.
so now, all eyes on the senate. manila standard‘s emil jurado predicts that merci will be acquitted.
Will the Senate convict Gutierrez? There are serious doubts. Senator Francis Escudero, an Aquino ally, says that no less than 16 senators are needed to convict Gutierrez, and at least seven to acquit her.
Out of the 24 senators, two are not present. Senator Panfilo Lacson is still a fugitive from justice. Former Senator Noynoy Aquino has risen to the presidency. But it is clear that the Senate needs a two-thirds vote in order to convict an official.
Who might be the seven senators to decide in Gutierrez’s favor. They are Senators Lito Lapid and Bong Revilla, known to be former President Arroyo’s allies; the minority in the opposition composed of Nacionalista Party senators, like Manny Villar, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Bongbong Marcos, and Loren Legarda. That’s already seven. Others who will also likely join them are Senators Joker Arroyo, Miguel Zubiri and Miriam Santiago. That brings the total to 10 senators in favor of Gutierrez.
Thus, my gulay, it’s unlikely that Gutierrez will be convicted. Her acquittal will be a slap on President Aquino, he who does not hide his obsession to run after his predecessor and prosecute her with a “friendlier” Ombudsman.
hmm. read raul pangalangan‘s Gutierrez impeachment prospects in the Senate and tony la vina‘s Impeachment as a lesson in civics. the senate would be wise to give the prosecutors of the lower house, and not the impeached ombudsman, the benefit of the doubt. senators who acquit do so at their own peril.