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(UPDATE 2 - 5:55 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines - Navotas City Rep. Tobias "Toby" Tiangco on Tuesday left the House of Representatives' majority bloc following the swift move of the members of Congress to impeach Chief Justice Renato Corona.
In his privilege speech, Tiangco of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino Party, said that while he supported President Benigno Aquino III, he did not like the hurried process that was done to impeach Corona.
“I do not want trouble with the most powerful man in the country. If the President wants GMA (former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) jailed for her alleged sins, I am one with him. But in pursuing justice, it must be done in a manner that does not destroy our institutions and more importantly the co-equal status guaranteed bythe Constitution,” Tiangco said.
He claimed that during Monday's 2:30 p.m. majority caucus at the House, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. only gave lawmakers two choices: sign or not sign the resolution impeaching Corona.
He said Belmonte allegedly did not give the congressmen the chance to question the resolution and read and assess the pieces of evidence against Corona.
"And the worst part of it all is that no questions would be entertained,” he said.
Tiangco, chairman of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, said that the railroading of Corona's impeachment showed that the leadership could no longer protect the integrity and independence of the chamber.
“I thought right then and there that we were just a rubber stamp Congress, a collegial body that just relinquished the integrity of itsinstitution and its independence to a co-equal branch,” Tiangco said.
“I cannot understand the speed at which the entire process was effected. Why the haste? In a matter of hours? Why cannot we give him due process, a basic right protected by no less than the fundamental law of the land?” he added.
Tiangco said that he had only learned about moves to impeach Corona Sunday night through a text message.
He said that during Monday's caucus, the lawmakers were told that Corona "is a stumbling block to the good intentions of the President because he is the protege of Arroyo so he would always protect the interest of PGMA."
"So para magawa ni Pangulong Noynoy ang kanyang gusto, kailangang i-impeach namin si Justice Corona. At 'yan po ay sinabi sa amin ng wala pa kaming kopya ng impeachment complaint," Tiangco told a radio station Tuesday afternoon.
[And for President Aquino to do what he wants, Corona has to be impeached. But that was told to us even before we were given a copy of the impeachment complaint.]
It was Tiangco who last April filed a bill opposing the Supreme Court's ruling converting 16 municiplaities into cities.
In his House Bill 4553, Tiangco pointed out that the said municipalities failed to comply with Republic Act 9009, which increased the income requirement for cityhood from P20 million to P100 million. - with additional reports from Lira Dalangin-Fernandez