Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Monday attended her first session day as member of the House of Representatives, but quietly left the session hall before a party-list representative delivered a scathing privilege speech against her.
Arroyo had just taken her oath of office along with other neophyte lawmakers when she left the session hall reportedly upon learning of Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello's speech against her.
Bello, who opened his speech with "Corruption was the signature of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo," mentioned the alleged abuses of the Arroyo administration as disclosed by President Benigno Aquino III in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week.
These included the large volume of imported rice found rotting in the warehouses of the National Food Authority (NFA), the excessive privileges of Manila Water and Sewerage System (MWSS) officials, and the alleged channeling of P105-million calamity fund to Pampanga, Arroyo’s home province.
Bello said he shares the public disgust on the “orgiastic compensation, brazen manipulation of government agencies and funds for political purposes and massive waste of the people’s money" by the Arroyo administration.
Arroyo was in Hong Kong when the 15th Congress opened its session last week.
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He said Arroyo has become a “model" for her officials in their alleged corrupt practices.
“Kung ang mga galamay ng nakaraang administrasyon ay kumilos parang bwaya, ito ay dahil meron silang magandang halimbawa sa pangungurakot sa taas (If the officials of the past administration were as greedy as alligators, that’s because they have a good model of corruption from their superior)," Bello said.
He said the campaign against corruption cannot proceed without the successful impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez “who deserves as the first line of defense of the former President." Gutierrez is a perceived ally of Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo.
“The sooner the current Ombudsman goes, the better for the country," said Bello.
Allies to the rescue
Arroyo allies in the chamber, meanwhile, defended her.
After speech, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco moved to have the opening part of Bello’s speech be removed from House records for being “unparliamentary."
Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin agreed with Tiangco. “It is not within parliamentary rules to mention a name of a colleague especially if we are connotating negative accusations," she said.
The chamber heeded Tiangco’s request, which did not sit well with other lawmakers.
San Juan Rep. Jose Victor Ejercito said the removal of the “unparliamentary" sentences would "castrate" the essence of the privilege speech. Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño said the decision to remove the sentences would set a bad precedent.
“I have been here for three terms and we know that it has been the practice of the House and it is provided in the rules that when a member rises in terms of privilege or during privilege hour we give him as much leeway as possible to express himself," he said.
Davao del Sur Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas IV said Arroyo should be accorded proper respect as a colleague. “Whether we like it or not, the former president will be here for three years just like anybody. We should be entitled to our respect and courtesy," he said.
Bello, unperturbed, said he is willing to face the ethics committee for his speech.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte has earlier said the ethics committee would be likely given to a member of the minority bloc. - KBK, GMANews.TV
Reposted From GMA News.TV