Oct 232014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA4040 2005-08-31 08:01 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 004040



E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/01/2015


¶B. MANILA 3994
¶C. MANILA 3901
¶D. MANILA 3391
¶E. MANILA 3154

Classified By: Acting Pol/C Joseph L. Novak for
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: The pro-Arroyo Majority in the House
Justice Committee voted down the final impeachment complaint
left standing against President Arroyo late August 31. The
Committee voted overwhelmingly to reject the complaint on the
grounds that it lacked substance (the Committee had already
rejected two other complaints, including one filed by the
Opposition, on technical grounds). The Committee is now
working on its final report which it plans to present to a
plenary session of the House on September 5. The Opposition
is trying to overturn the Committee’s actions by collecting
the requisite endorsements so that its complaint can earn a
referral to the Senate. It is also investigating legal
avenues. With few options left, the end game for the
Opposition’s impeachment effort seems in sight. End Summary.

Majority Votes Down Last Complaint

¶2. (U) Late August 31, the Justice Committee of the
Philippine House of Representatives decisively rejected the
third and final impeachment complaint against President
Arroyo. After having rejected two other impeachment
complaints, including a comprehensive one filed by the
Opposition, on technical grounds (refs a-b), the Committee
proceeded to consider the last remaining complaint which had
been filed by private citizen Oliver Lozano. Voting 46 to 0,
the Committee found that the complaint had followed
appropriate procedures and was sufficient as a matter of
format. Voting 49 to 1 with 2 abstentions, the Committee
then rejected the complaint for “lack of substance.” In
comments made before the vote, pro-Arroyo Congressman Luis
Villafuerte argued that the Lozano complaint was based solely
on tapes made via wiretaps, which had been done illegally and
were inadmissible in any House proceedings. (Note: The
tapes contained a host of material, including conversations
between President Arroyo and a then-electoral official in
¶2004. End Note.) Other representatives argued that the
Lozano complaint dealt with some matters that took place
before Arroyo assumed office in 2001, which was not
appropriate. Due to their ongoing walkout, there were
virtually no Opposition members in the Committee hearing room
at the time of the votes.

¶3. (C) The Committee’s hearings on the impeachment
complaints are now over. It is now scheduled to draw up a
report in the next several days and present that report to
the House meeting in plenary session late September 5. The
House will then decide whether to accept the Committee’s
findings or to overturn them in whole or in some other
manner. In a September 1 conversation with Acting Pol/C,
Congressman Villafuerte predicted that the House would
“decisively support” the Justice Committee’s recommendations
when it meets early next week. He added that “the whole
impeachment matter should be wrapped up before the House goes
on recess” on September 8. (Note: The House and the Senate
are on recess from September 9-18. End Note.)

Opposition’s Dwindling Options

¶4. (U) The Opposition is moving forward with two remaining
options: the first involves a bid to overturn the
Committee’s results and the second involves legal avenues.
With a great sense of urgency, pro-impeachment lawmakers are
frantically scrambling to try to gather the 79 or more
endorsements needed (one-third of the House membership) to
meet the criteria for a reference of the Opposition’s
comprehensive impeachment complaint to the Senate by next
week’s plenary (and thus overturn the Justice Committee’s
finding). If the Opposition fails to reach this number, the
Committee’s ruling will stand and the impeachment proceedings
in the House as a whole will effectively be over.

¶5. (C) With regard to the numbers game, anti-Arroyo
Representative Edmund Reyes told the Committee on August 31
that the Opposition now has about 73 endorsements. He
asserted that 23 of the members who made endorsements did not
want to identify themselves at this time, preferring to
remain anonymous until the Opposition obtains the 79 needed
signatures. If this is true, the Opposition would still need
an additional six signatures by September 5 in order to
request that its complaint be sent to the Senate. Pro-Arroyo
lawmakers contend that the Opposition has considerably less
support and some in the Majority have made clear that they
will fight over every name on the endorsement list if the
Opposition claims that it has the requisite support. In a
September 1 conversation, Charlie Serapio, a pro-Opposition
lawyer, told Acting Pol/C that he thought that the
anti-Arroyo side was “coming very close” to the figure of 79
endorsements, but he provided no other details.

¶6. (U) The Opposition is also moving forward with possible
legal remedies. A pro-Opposition private citizen filed a
petition with the Supreme Court on August 31 requesting that
a temporary restraining order be slapped on the impeachment
proceedings. The petition asserts that the Majority’s action
were unconstitutional and not in compliance with the House’s
own rules. It is not clear when the Supreme Court will rule
on this petition. Another private citizen linked with the
Opposition has also said that he plans to file a petition
with the Supreme Court after the Justice Committee submits
its report to the House on September 5.


¶7. (C) The end game for the Opposition’s impeachment effort
is quickly drawing near. At this point, the Opposition
either gets the needed 79 or more votes in the House plenary
or it closes up shop in reference to impeachment (the
Opposition is not really counting on the legal avenue).
Observers have commented on the quick work that the Majority
has made of the Opposition’s impeachment effort. Some
commentators have speculated (probably with great accuracy)
that the Majority is moving quickly at the behest of Arroyo
who wants the deck clear of all impeachment charges ahead of
her upcoming trip to the U.S. for UNGA and Saudi Arabia.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department’s
Classified SIPRNET website:




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