Erap: With solons bought, how can impeach succeed?
Ang Pahayagang Malaya

BACOLOD CITY – President Joseph Estrada Sunday said the impeachment complaint against President Arroyo will not prosper because the administration is buying congressmen and the opposition is not united.

"With the situation now na malapit na ang election, siyempre kailangan nang mga kakampi niya (Arroyo) sa Kongreso yong pera, kailangan bayaran naman ito," Estrada said.

"Kaya natutuwa yong mga congressmen pag may impeachment, dahil kikita naman sila, di ba? Gusto nila taon-taon may impeachment para kumita naman sila," he said in jest.

Estrada arrived Sunday for a two-day speaking engagement in Negros Occidental,

The House minority has admitted they would need a miracle to save the impeachment complaint filed by businessman Joey de Venecia and civil society groups last Monday.

The minority have to muster 79 votes, or one third of the 236-member House of Representatives to transmit the complaint to Senate for trial.

Estrada also admitted he remains a key factor in unifying the opposition, an opinion shared by Sen. Francis Escudero.

"Definitely, it is because marami pa rin sumusuporta sa kanya (Estrada)," Escudero said.

Escudero was a judge at the MassKara Queen beauty pageant Saturday.

Estrada said he will try his best to unite them "to have one presidential candidate to ensure victory of the opposition."

He denied reports that he was among the "busiest presidentiables" as he has been going around the country.

Sen. Mar Roxas was also in Negros Occidental. He arrived Friday.

"If that is what they think, then, they are already afraid. As what I have said earlier, if I cannot unite the opposition, then I will run. That is my last option," Estrada said.

The impeachment complaint accuses Arroyo of betrayal of public trust for approving the National Broadband Network (NBN) telecommunications deal with China’s ZTE Corp., saying that the deal was overpriced by at least $130M; culpable violation of the Constitution for approving the NorthRail rehabilitation project; human rights violations; graft and corruption for her administration’s involvement in various irregularities including the P728 million fertilizer scam, P2 billion swine scam; and, alleged ballot-switching in 2004.

Administration congressmen dismissed the impeachment complaints in 2005 and 2006 by Oliver Lozano and in 2007 by lawyer Roel Pulido for lacking in substance.

Estrada said he will try to mediate between warring Senate President Manuel Villar and Sen. Panfilo Lacson in a bid to unite the opposition.

"I have not given up. Perhaps we will know everything a year before the elections itself," he said.

But Estrada said that he will not force the issue.

"Maybe we can talk after December. Pabayaan muna natin sila na magkalabasan ng sama ng loob tapos saka na natin kausapin," said Estrada, the titular head of the United Opposition (UNO).

Lacson had exposed the alleged "double insertions" for the C-5 road project saying the money trail led him to Villar.

Lacson’s expose resulted in a divided opposition in the Senate with Alan Peter Cayetano siding with Villar and Jamby Madrigal choosing to side with Lacson.

Estrada also chided President Arroyo over her pronouncement of a $10 billion fund as pledged by World Bank (WB) for a standby fund in case the Asean region is affected by the US financial crunch. – Gilbert Bayoran and Ashzel Hachero

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