Oct 232014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA3994 2005-08-29 09:57 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 003994



E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/30/2015


¶B. MANILA 3862
¶C. MANILA 3810
¶D. MANILA 3697
¶E. MANILA 3391

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

¶1. (C) Summary: Impeachment hearings in the House Justice
Committee continued on August 30. The pro-Arroyo Majority
made clear that it intends to vote against allowing the House
to review the Opposition’s amended impeachment complaint
against President Arroyo. The Opposition argues that its
complaint should be fully aired. It is not clear when key
votes on the matter will be taken, but they are expected in
the next day or so. Leftists, joined by some mainstream
Opposition elements, held a rally near Congress calling for
Arroyo’s impeachment on August 30. About 4,000 people
participated, but there were no reports of violence. It
appears that the only chance the Opposition has now to push
forward with impeachment is to gain enough support for its
complaint to earn a referral to the Senate, but that prospect
seems unlikely. End Summary.

Debate Continues

¶2. (U) The House Justice Committee resumed its hearings on
the impeachment complaints filed against President Arroyo on
August 30. As has been the case in earlier sessions, debate
centered around the issue of whether the Committee should
consider the amended complaint filed by Opposition lawmakers
on July 25 or complaints filed earlier by private citizens
(ref d). Opposition lawmakers argued that its July 25
complaint merely strengthened the substance of the original
complaints and insisted that the Committee consider all of
its evidence against the President. Majority lawmakers
argued that the amended complaint is a separate petition and,
as such, is invalid because the law forbids filing additional
complaints within a year of the original charges. In
speeches containing great detail on procedural matters,
lawmakers also debated the validity of all the complaints on
myriad technical grounds. At about 4:40 PM local time,
Committee Chairman Simeon Datumanong declared the debate over
and called for a vote on initial procedural issues.
Pandemonium ensued, with Opposition members loudly demanding
to take the floor. At this point, Datumanong gaveled the
hearings closed for the day and Opposition members stormed
out of the building. Hearings are scheduled to resume on
August 31, though there is an outside chance that the House
will hold an unscheduled session later tonight.

Votes Expected Soon

¶3. (U) Majority members of the Justice Committee are
expected to push for votes on the issue of which complaint(s)
to recognize whenever hearings resume. Some Opposition
members believe that if the Committee refuses to accept its
amended complaint the impeachment effort cannot go forward.
Other Opposition members argue, however, that they can
proceed regardless of which complaint the Justice Committee
recognizes (see ref a). At the same time, some Majority
lawmakers have suggested that none of the complaints may be
valid because of technical deficiencies. If the Committee
were to refuse to recognize all three complaints, the
impeachment hearings would essentially be over.

Opposition Rally

¶4. (U) The Opposition also sponsored a public rally on August
¶30. Opposition lawmakers attended a mass at a church near
Congress in Quezon City, where Bishop Antonio Tobias (a
left-leaning Catholic prelate) in his homily urged President
Arroyo to “listen to the sentiments of the people.” Susan
Roces, the widow of former presidential candidate Fernando
Poe Jr., also attended the mass. Afterward, she marched with
pro-Opposition religious and civil society groups to the
House of Representatives, where she observed the hearings
from the gallery. The hearings were briefly interrupted when
several pro-Opposition spectators unfurled banners calling
for the impeachment of President Arroyo. This prompted the
presiding officer to order the removal of the group from the
session hall. Outside of the House, meanwhile, around 4,000
protesters held an anti-Arroyo rally. According to emboff
who observed the rally, most of the protesters belonged to
leftist groups such as Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anak Pawis,
Migrante, etc. A large contingent of police prevented the
demonstrators from entering House grounds and there were no
reports of violence as of 5:00 PM August 30.


¶5. (C) It appears that the only chance the Opposition has
now to push forward with impeachment is to gain enough
support for its complaint to earn a referral to the Senate.
The Opposition’s complaint seems to have anywhere from 45 to
65 endorsers depending on what source is being cited, but
that is not enough: it needs 79 or more endorsements (or
more than one-third of the total House membership). At this
point, unless the Opposition can pull off a surprise, it
seems that there is little chance that its complaint is going
anywhere. If the Opposition loses in the Justice Committee,
however, the turbulence will not end. As with today’s rally,
the Opposition has made clear that it will continue its
effort to oust Arroyo via demonstrations, press events, etc.

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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