Oct 242014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA3901 2005-08-23 08:45 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 003901



E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/24/2015


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

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 won
the initial vote in the Justice Committee on the Opposition’s
impeachment charges against President Arroyo on August 23.
The vote in the Committee was 54-24 against an Opposition
motion to move directly into discussion of the substance of
the charges. The Opposition has harshly criticized the
Committee’s decision, asserting that Malacanang was trying to
stall debate contrary to promises that it would allow all
charges to be fully aired. Hearings continued throughout the
day on August 24. At this point, with the pro-Arroyo
majority holding together to a large extent, the Opposition’s
effort to impeach Arroyo seems to be in some trouble. End

Majority Wins Initial Vote

¶2. (U) The House Justice Committee voted on August 23 to
resolve procedural issues concerning which impeachment
complaint it should recognize before reviewing the substance
of any of the charges made against President Arroyo. The
Committee voted largely along party lines, with 54 members
voting to defeat an Opposition motion to move directly to the
substance of the charges. Twenty-four lawmakers supported
the motion. Three members abstained. At issue is whether
the Committee will consider the original complaint filed by
private citizen Oliver Lozano in June, an amended complaint
filed subsequently by another private citizen, or an amended
and comprehensive complaint filed by Opposition lawmakers in
July (ref d). The Opposition has underscored that its
complaint should be the one recognized and discussed in the
hearings. Pro-Arroyo Congressman Edcel Lagman, the Vice
Chairman of the Justice Committee, defended the decision to
resolve all procedural issues first, commenting that the
Committee’s decision will “provide a roadmap for the orderly
handling of the impeachment complaints.” He added that:
“Nobody lost in the voting. It was a victory for the rule of
law. It was a triumph for the Constitution.”

¶3. (U) On August 24, the Committee continued its debate on
the rules of the impeachment hearings. Chairman Simeon
Datumanong vowed to reduce the list of procedural issues to
the “barest minimum” in order to enable the Committee to move
more quickly. As of late afternoon August 24, the Committee
had not reached a consensus on the central issue of which
impeachment complaint to consider. The Justice Committee is
scheduled to reconvene from August 30 through September 1 to
continue debate.

Opposition Lashes Out

¶4. (C) Opposition lawmakers have gown increasingly critical
of what they see as efforts by the Administration to
stonewall in the Justice Committee and to avoid addressing
the central issues in the impeachment complaints. Opposition
members assert that it is time that the hearings reviewed
substantive issues, noting that 22 session days have already
passed without discussion of any substantive issues, over
one-third of the time allotted. (Note: The Justice
Committee must give its recommendation to the House within 60
session days of opening hearings into the impeachment
complaint. End Note.) Ronnie Zamorra, an anti-Arroyo
congressman from Manila, told Acting Pol/C recently that he
was certain that Malacanang was trying to stall debate and,
by doing so, derail the proceedings. He asserted that such
an effort was contrary to Arroyo’s promises to allow the
impeachment charges to be fully aired. Surigao del Norte
Representative Robert “Ace” Barbers, at an August 23 press
conference where he endorsed the Opposition’s impeachment
complaint, said, “We can never see the truth in killing the
impeachment process due to a technicality.” (Note: Barbers
and at least three other representatives announced their
support for the opposition’s impeachment complaint on August
¶23. There are different figures, but about 50 House members
seem to have endorsed the complaint as of this time. A total
of 79 or more House members need to endorse the complaint if
it is going to be referred to the Senate. End Note.)

¶5. (C) Opposition lawmakers, such as Minority Leader Francis
“Chis” Escudero, have threatened to walk out of the
proceedings if the Justice Committee decides to hear only the
original Lozano petition, which many believe to be the
weakest complaint against the President. Furthermore, some
lawmakers are threatening to “take the issue to the streets”
and air their grievances through protests if they become
convinced that the impeachment hearings are not going
anywhere. In the recent meeting with Acting Pol/C, Zamorra
made clear that the “street protest” option was something the
Opposition was seriously considering if its complaint was not
the one selected for review by the Justice Committee.

¶6. (U) Despite the setbacks in the House, some Opposition
members believe they can make progress in the House on the
impeachment charges regardless of which complaint the
Committee ultimately decides to review. Pro-Opposition
Congressman Allan Peter Cayetano said in an interview that he
and his colleagues can present key allegations against Arroyo
under the blanket charge of “betrayal of public trust,” which
is an element in all three impeachment complaints.


¶7. (C) The pro-Arroyo majority in the House is a
considerable one and it seems to be holding together to a
large extent at this point. The Opposition has shown little
ability to pick up cross-over support, though some in the
Opposition claim that more House members support its
impeachment complaint than have publicly admitted to doing
so. Thus far, the news from the House is largely positive
for Malacanang. It is possible, however, that Malacanang
could win the battle, but lose the war for public opinion if
it is perceived as trying to stifle debate in the House.

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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