Oct 232014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA3593 2005-08-03 08:11 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 003593



E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/03/2015


¶B. MANILA 3391
¶C. MANILA 3367

Classified By: Political Officer Timothy Cipullo for
Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: The House has set the rules for the
Opposition’s impeachment complaint against President Arroyo.
The rules will allow the House to refer the complaint to the
Senate at any point if the Opposition is able to show that it
has attained requisite support (79 members). The Opposition
is now claiming that 52 members have signed its complaint, a
gain of ten from last count, while pro-Arroyo politicians
have predicted that they will be able to block the complaint.
On August 1, a former Malacanang official publicly accused
Arroyo of giving payoffs to election officials before the May
2004 elections. Malacanang has denied the charges. The
Opposition appears less confident that it will be able to
impeach Arroyo and now seems to be aiming to use the hearings
more as a platform to criticize her. End Summary.

House Sets Rules

¶2. (U) After heated debate, the House of Representatives has
adopted rules to govern impeachment proceedings against
President Arroyo. (Note: The Opposition’s impeachment
complaint against Arroyo, filed on July 25, claimed that she
had engaged in abuse of power and corruption, among other
charges — see ref b. End Note.) Lawmakers, on August 1,
settled on the same set of rules used during the impeachment
of then-President Joseph “Erap” Estrada in 2000-01. Under
these rules, additional representatives may sign on to the
complaint after its initial filing, and, if 1/3 of the House
(79 members) sign the complaint at any point, hearings will
be terminated in that body. Should this happen, the
President will be considered impeached and the complaint will
be transmitted to the Senate for the trial to begin. If the
figure of 79 members is not reached, however, the impeachment
complaint will lapse after review in the House for the
required sixty working days.

¶3. (C) Although the House has agreed on the basic framework
of the rules, pro-Arroyo and Opposition lawmakers continue to
dispute some of the provisions. Both sides disagree, for
example, as to which version of the complaint will be
accepted by the House. (Note: The complaint filed by the
Opposition on July 25 amended an earlier charge sheet filed
by a private citizen. The pro-Arroyo side believes the
earlier complaint is the official one. End Note.) Jimmie
Policarpio, a former GRP official who is now with the
Opposition, told Acting Pol/C on August 1 that there remained
“significant” areas where the two sides “can come into
conflict over the rules” and he predicted that some matters
could wind up in the Supreme Court.

¶4. (SBU) In terms of next steps, the House Justice Committee
is scheduled to begin a formal review of the complaint next
week. Ronnie Zamora, an Opposition House member, has told us
that he did not think that the Committee hearings would get
into an in-depth review of issues until September when he
said the Opposition would begin to call its main witnesses.

Jockeying for Support

¶5. (C) Opposition members have said publicly that at least
10 more lawmakers have signed their impeachment complaint in
the week since it was filed. (Note: Forty-two members
endorsed it on July 25. End Note.) The ten new names would
give the complaint a total of 52 endorsements. This figure
remains well short of the 79 endorsements needed in order to
send the complaint to the Senate. When asked about the
status of the complaint by Acting Pol/C on August 2, Ramon
“Eki” Cardenas, an Opposition figure, replied “so far, so
good.” Cardenas went on to assert that the opposition felt
upbeat about its prospects “given that the Opposition has
gotten many signatures despite huge pressure from Malacanang
on members not to sign.”

¶6. (C) Pro-Arroyo politicians respond that they are
confident that their side has enough support to block the
impeachment move in the House. Speaker Jose De Venecia, a
staunch Arroyo supporter, told us on August 2 that he had
firm support in the House and could prevent impeachment. De
Venecia has publicly announced that the Administration has
189 firm commitments from lawmakers not to sign the
impeachment complaint, more than enough to block the
complaint in the 236-member House.

A New Allegation

¶7. (U) In the meantime, another allegation has cropped up
against Arroyo. Michaelangelo Zuce, a former Malacanang
political operative, asserted in an August 1 press conference
that President Arroyo had cronies bribe Commission on
Elections (COMELEC) officials to ensure her victory in the
May 2004 elections. Zuce claimed that he helped arrange —
and then personally attended — two meetings called by the
President with COMELEC officials where she asked for their
support in January 2004. After Arroyo left the meetings,
Zuce claimed that an Arroyo crony gave 30,000 pesos
(approximately USD 535) to each COMELEC official present. He
further claimed that he personally paid bribes to Mindanao
election officials using money from Malacanang coffers.
Malacanang has vigorously denied the charges. Arroyo, for
example, publicly labeled the charges as more “black
propaganda” by the Opposition, claiming that her rights had
been violated by “quadruple hearsays being headlined and with
all of the witnesses who…give affidavits for a song (with)
no way to impugn their credibility.”

¶8. (U) Congress plans to continue to investigate two other
scandals impacting on Arroyo. Hearings on the wiretapped
conversations between Arroyo and a then-election official are
scheduled to resume in the House on August 3. The Senate
also plans to resume its inquiry into allegations that the
President’s family received payoffs from “jueteng” (illegal
gambling) operators on August 3. Zuce is scheduled to
testify in the Senate hearings on what he knows about jueting.


¶9. (C) The pro-Arroyo leadership in the House appears to have
given into most Opposition demands regarding the rules,
apparently because it did not want to be perceived as
blocking the impeachment inquiry. Although the Opposition
has picked up some support for its complaint, it appears less
confident that it will be able to impeach Arroyo, and now
seems to be aiming to use the hearings more as a platform to
attack her. Zuce’s claims are difficult to prove, and add to
the swirl of charges and counter-charges embroiling Filipino
politics. Judging from past performance, the Opposition —
which is trying hard to recover lost momentum — is likely to
continue to hold similar events in which alleged “witnesses”
make various claims against Arroyo.

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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