by Jherlyn Meneses/Asianjournal.com
ABOUT 60 former Cabinet officials, including some who served under the Arroyo administration, called for the President to step down on Sunday. A statement was read outside the La Salle Greenhills gate after the Thanksgiving Mass for national broadband network (NBN) deal investigation witness Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr.
“We can no longer ignore the reality of a government gone wild, wreaking havoc on our rights and institutions in a climate of impunity. We can no longer console ourselves in the strength of the peso, narrowing deficits and an expanding economy. Even these ephemeral gains have not translated into a better life for the majority of our people, especially the poor,” said former Ambassador to the United States Alberto Del Rosario, who read from a statement signed by former secretaries.
The statement entitled “Time to Go: A call to our colleagues in government,” stated that as they held high positions in the current and previous administrations, they are now compelled to “speak up for our demoralized public servants and arrest the decline of our institutions of governance.” They noted that even the current strength of the peso could not hide the crisis the government is facing.
“We call on all government officials – Cabinet secretaries, Undersecretaries, heads of agencies – who know about these anomalous transactions to join the heroic stand of Jun Lozada to come forward and speak out,” the statement said.
Among those who signed the statement were former secretaries Florencio Abad (Agrarian Reform) and Edilberto de Jesus Jr. (Education), Jesus Estanislao, Ernest Leung, Vicente Paterno, Cesar Purisima and Ramon del Rosario (Finance), Jose Pardo and Juan Santos (Trade), Fulgencio Factoran (Environment), Dinky Soliman and Lina Laigo (Social Welfare), Benjamin Laguesma (Labor), Ernesto Garilao (Agrarian Reform), Jose Antonio Gonzalez, Narzalina Lim and Sostenes Campillo (Tourism), Benjamin Diokno (Budget), Senen Bacani (Agriculture), Cesar Sarino (Interior), Cielito Habito (NEDA), and Oscar Orbos (Executive Secretary) and Franklin Drilon (Executive Secretary, Justice).
The former Cabinet executives also called on “all those who know about extrajudicial killings and disappearances to go public and tell the truth.”
Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino, dean of the San Beda College Graduate School of Law, meanwhile, agreed that Lozada’s “serious” allegations—which “suggest corruption and criminality in high places”—should be thoroughly investigated by the proper bodies “with prosecutorial power” such as the Ombudsman so that those found guilty are charged, and the innocent “cleared of all aspersions of doubt and infamy.”
Aquino, whose letter was provided by Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye to Malacañang reporters, said that while Congress has oversight powers, “it clearly does not have the power to prosecute.”
Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez issued the statement amid allegations that Arroyo is losing her moral authority to lead the country, which were made during a special Mass at La Salle Greenhills in support of Lozada.
“We have achieved 28 consecutive quarters of economic growth with a 7.3-percent gross domestic product growth in 2007, achieved one million jobs last year, decreased the poverty and unemployment rate. We have been applauded and respected by international governments on our fiscal reforms and macroeconomic fundamentals, and have had the strongest peso currency in a generation. No immoral government can sustain these gains,” Golez said.
He also added that the Philippines have been enjoying positive economic growth for the last eight years under Arroyo’s leadership, “and the economy is still soaring, defying the laws of gravity.”
Furthermore, Palace officials said that while they respect the La Salle Mass held that day in support of Lozada as a “a democratic exercise of religious freedom,” they called for justice based on due process, and not merely on emotions.