LP group break-up looms

Party’s over? Impeach-VP plan divisive, NPC warns

HOUSE leaders warned Sunday of the inevitable breakup of the majority coalition over a Liberal Party-led move to impeach Vice President Jejomar Binay, which would leave his United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) no choice but to bolt the alliance.

The second largest party in the House, the 40-strong Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), said the LP-led impeachment efforts were counter-productive.

“Initiating an impeachment is untimely and a potentially divisive and costly political exercise,” said NPC secretary general and Batangas Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza.

“The NPC, which remains one of the biggest political parties in the country, completely disagrees and will not support the calls of the critics of VP Binay to initiate an impeachment move against him,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza issued the statement after cracks started to show within the Liberal Party itself, with allies of Interior and Local Governments Secretary Manuel Roxas II pursuing the impeachment to stop Binay from becoming the next president, and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte opposing such moves.

Another coalition member, the National Unity Party, led by Dasmarinas City Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. has contradicted Belmonte’s position that Binay could not be impeached for acts committed before he became vice president.

Roxas’ closest ally and LP party whip Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said he saw no relevance of the impeachment to the break up of the majority coalition.

He said the breakup was inevitable because Binay’s UNA had no choice but to bolt the coalition.

“One thing is sure, though, UNA will eventually bolt the House coalition. After all, they are just there for the freebies. They don’t actually support the President’s vision and reform agenda,” Erice told the Manila Standard.

UNA’s interim president, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, shot back.

“Erice’s number one talent is his thick face. He gets self satisfaction when he lands in media. He talks to himself and answers his own questions. Doesn’t he wonder why he keeps talking and talking yet until now, nobody has designated him LP spokesman?” Tiangco said.

The UNA has accused Roxas, the presumptive LP standard bearer for 2016 and Binay’s archrival, of masterminding Oplan Nognog, an LP-Natconalista Party alliance that allegedly mounted a demolition job against the vice president in the Senate.

The NPC said it supported Belmonte’s view on impeachment.

Belmonte, LP vice chairman, has cautioned Erice against filing the impeachment complaint especially if the grounds to be raised were about Binay’s alleged offenses when he was still mayor of Makati City.

Belmonte said he would convince Erice not to file the impeachment complaint.

But Erice said instead of a split in the coalition, he expected the impeachment complaint to gain multi-party support.

“It really depends on the substance of the impeachment complaint. If it is credible, it will gain multi-party support,” Erice said.

The NPC’s Mendoza urged administration lawmakers to engage in more productive pursuits such as continuing with the reforms and programs aimed at improving the lives and livelihood of the people.

“The Aquino administration only has a little over two years left in office and we hope that its allies in Congress should instead focus on the tasks at hand and not dabble too much in politics,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza was also reacting to recent reports quoting Justice Secretary Leila de Lima that the results of their probe on allegations of corruption against Binay could be used as basis for filing an impeachment complaint against him.

“We note with great concern the calls by critics of VP Binay to impeach him because we believe that instead of wasting their resources on such unproductive undertakings like an impeachment trial, the government allies should work harder to sustain our political and economic gains with special focus on good governance” Mendoza said.

Earlier, Binay vowed to keep fighting what he tagged a scripted plot to derail his 2016 plans through a Senate inquiry, a Justice Department probe, and the threat of impeachment by administration congressmen.

Binay made his remarks at the 5th MCLE Accredited National Convention of Public Attorneys at the Manila Hotel even as he vowed to always uphold the rule of law and the Constitution, especially against those who would use power for selfish political agenda.

He also chided De Lima for her unusual interest in investigating the charges against him despite the number of other cases her department has yet to resolve including those that concern the pork barrel scam and the outlawed Disbursement Acceleration Program involving administration allies.

Belmonte said he does not think Binay could be impeached over the alleged overpriced Makati parking building that began construction when the latter was Makati mayor.

“I think that up to this point we have been discussing things [that happened] before he became Vice President, and on that basis, I don’t think impeachment is something that’s called for,” Belmonte said.

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