Oct 232014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA4019 2005-08-30 09:58 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 004019



E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/31/2015


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

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

¶1. (C) Summary: The pro-Arroyo Majority in the House voted
August 31 to disallow the Opposition’s impeachment complaint
against President Arroyo in favor of a weaker complaint filed
earlier by a private citizen. There are also reports that
the Majority is planning to throw out this remaining
impeachment complaint on technical grounds. Most Opposition
members have walked out of the hearings, asserting that
Malacanang is trying to stifle debate. The Opposition
promises that it will continue its anti-Arroyo efforts by
other means, such as rallies, but there is little sign that
its call for protests is gaining much traction among the
general public. End Summary.

Majority: Firmly in Charge

¶2. (U) The House Justice Committee resumed hearings on the
impeachment complaints filed against President Arroyo on
August 31 (ref b). Most Opposition lawmakers boycotted the
proceedings. The issues under discussion in the hearing were
quite technical and procedure-related, but the vote taken
during the session basically sounded the death knell for the
Opposition’s impeachment effort. Late in the day, over the
vociferous objections by the handful of Opposition
representatives in attendance, the Committee voted 48 to 4
that the original impeachment complaint filed by private
citizen Oliver Lozano invalidated the amended petition filed
by Opposition lawmakers on July 25 (ref d). A third petition
filed by another private citizen was also ruled out of order.
The August 31 vote took place after Majority lawmakers
suddenly reconvened the Committee late August 30 and voted 52
to 2 that the three impeachment petitions were distinct and
could be voted on one by one (most Opposition lawmakers had
already walked out by the time of the vote).

¶3. (C) Having determined which complaint to consider, the
Committee will now move on to debate whether the Lozano
complaint is sufficient in form and substance. This will
culminate in a decision either to throw it out or to send it
to the Senate for trial. Contacts report that the Majority
is planning to throw out the Lozano complaint on technical
grounds. Congressman Gilberto Teodoro, a pro-Arroyo
legislator, told Acting Pol/C on August 31 that “it was all
over for the impeachment effort — the Lozano complaint will
be thrown out, too.”

Opposition Frustration

¶4. (U) As mentioned, most Opposition lawmakers chose to
boycott the August 31 proceedings, asserting that the
Majority was denying them the chance to air their charges.
Representative Teodoro Casino, from the leftist party list
group Bayan Muna, stated: “we will not be party to this
sham.” Opposition leaders asserted that the decision to
accept the original impeachment complaint filed by Lozano in
June was part of a “plot” by Malacanang “to inoculate” the
President against impeachment charges.

¶5. (U) On this latter point, former Department of Social
Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, a
former Cabinet member who has turned against Arroyo, publicly
claimed that she had heard the President instruct a political
advisor to have a pro-Arroyo representative endorse Lozano’s
complaint earlier this year. The Opposition claims the
Administration accepted the Lozano complaint (which is very
weak in substance) in order to forestall more serious charges
by the Opposition. (Note: Under Philippine law, only one
impeachment complaint may be filed against an official within
a year, which places a premium on precedence. End Note.)
Soliman said Malacanang had pressed Lozano to move forward
with his complaint knowing full well that it could be
dismissed later on technical grounds. Malacanang has
strongly denied the charges.

¶6. (C) As the Committee met, several hundred left-leaning
protesters kept up a vigil outside the House of
Representatives complex in Quezon City. Demonstrators
repeated calls for Arroyo’s resignation. Police scuffled
with several groups of protesters armed with sticks and
rocks, and several injuries were reported among both
protesters and security forces. In an interview conducted
outside the House of Representatives, Brother Eddie
Villanueva, leader of the Evangelical Christian “Jesus Is
Lord” movement, said that he is willing to lead Opposition
supporters into the streets “if the Constitutional process
fails.” (Note: There were also reports that two other
Opposition leaders, Susan Roces and Corazon Aquino, planned
to address demonstrators in the vicinity of Congress. End
Note.) In an August 31 conversation with Opposition
Congressman Ronnie Zamora, Acting Pol/C underscored the
importance of respecting law and order, and ensuring that no
violence took place. Zamora said the Opposition understood
this. He added that there was considerable frustration among
some anti-Arroyo elements who felt that Arroyo had gone back
on a promise to allow impeachment charges to be discussed in
the House.


¶7. (C) With the impeachment route virtually foreclosed at
this point, the Opposition has promised that it will continue
its anti-Arroyo effort by other means, such as rallies and
press briefings. There is little sign that its call for
protests is gaining much traction among the general public,
however. So far, the crowds appearing in the vicinity of
Congress have been quite small by Filipino standards. It is
possible that the bare-knuckled way Malacanang has imposed
its will on the impeachment process could spark some broader
concerns. Some normally neutral observers have told us that
the Majority’s actions have made a poor impression. The
Opposition, no doubt, will try to take advantage of any
sympathy it receives in the hope that it can revive its
flagging anti-Arroyo campaign.

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