MANILA — Law students of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) are throwing their support to the impeachment proceedings against President Benigno Aquino III, according to a statement released by the UST Civil Law Student Council and Legislative Board of Class Presidents on Thursday.
“We believe that impeachment is a necessary constitutional process that the President has to be subjected to in order to be held accountable for the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which has been unanimously held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court,” the UST Law SC said in their statement.
One of the three impeachment complaints filed in recent weeks against Aquino was filed by YOUTH ACT NOW!, an anti-pork barrel youth group whose national convenor is UST Civil Law SC President Victor Villanueva.
“Being one of the main complainants in the youth-led impeachment complaint versus Aquino, I actively explained the merits of the impeachment complaint to my colleagues in the Civil Law student council. After due deliberation, the UST Civil Law SC decided to formally support the impeachment proceedings,” Villanueva said.
According to the UST Civil Law SC’s statement, Thomasian law students find “unacceptable the use of billions of pesos of the people’s money in lump sums, for projects that are not in the budget law and thus, did not go through the constitutional process of scrutiny and legislation by Congress, the branch of the government that is supposed to exercise the power of the purse.”
“We are disgusted that President BS Aquino continues to use the sufferings of our people to justify illegal disbursements of our money. We find no reason why the DAP projects could not have stood scrutiny through legislation and be formalized in the annual General Appropriations Act or in a supplemental budget law. That these projects did not stand such legislative deliberation casts great doubt on the unilateral execution of DAP-funded projects. We are alarmed that most DAP projects have not yet been audited by the Commission on Audit,” the UST Civil Law SC explained.
“We, Thomasian law students, fueled by our compassion for our fellow countrymen, find ourselves in interesting times of disquiet….We are alarmed that many of our representatives in Congress have turned a blind eye to the President’s usurpation of their power and, worse, have taken part in the concerted effort to shield the President and his alter-egos from accountability. We challenge them to discuss the merits of the impeachment complaints and not merely turn this process into a political numbers game,” the statement further read.
Villanueva said that the Congress leadership should not act “blind, deaf and mute” in the upcoming impeachment proceedings, just as the legislature did during the impeachment proceedings for former president Gloria Arroyo.
“If Congress continues to shield the President from accountability, we are ready and will not hesitate to pursue other constitutional and sovereign remedies to challenge the DAP in particular and the pork barrel system in general. We will continue to take an active role in pursuing genuine social change as future lawyers of our nation,” the UST Civil Law SC statement read.