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Makati Business Club 'deeply concerned' over impeachment complaints

MANILA, Philippines – The Makati Business Club (MBC), which counts executives of the country's largest conglomerates as members, said it was "deeply concerned" that the recent the raft of impeachment complaints against heads of constitutional bodies could undermine the country’s economic progress.

The MBC issued the statement even as it recognized the impeachment process as a vital part of the country’s democratic system of checks and balances.   (READ: FAST FACTS: How does impeachment work?)

“We are deeply concerned over the unprecedented number of impeachment complaints lodged against high-ranking officials from the President, the Supreme Court Chief Justice, the Ombudsman and the COMELEC,” the MBC said in a statement on Thursday, September 14. (READ: The misuse of impeachment)

"Undoubtedly, impeachment cases will also negatively affect investors’ perception of the economic and political stability of our country. As such, we respectfully remind Congress to be judicious in applying this ultimate accountability tool and to treat this as a weapon of last resort, as our Constitution intends it to be," it added.

Earlier this week, the House committee on justice deemed as sufficient in form and substance one of two impeachment complaints against Sereno. The panel threw out the other impeachment complaint, filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, as it was not sufficient in form.

The VACC is aso building an impeachment case against Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista based on his alleged unexplained wealth. Several lawmakers have already filed an impeachment complaint against Bautista.

There are also impeachment threats against Vice President Leni Robredo and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.

The President himself has also been the target of an impeachment complaint although it was swiftly batted down in Congress.

Potential implications

The MBC said the impeachment process, which is provided under the Constitution, "must not be invoked arbitrarily to persecute and silence individuals with opposing views, nor to undermine independent institutions, the bulwark of our nation’s democracy."

“The impeachment cases must be substantiated by strong evidence of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, corruption or other high crimes, and not supported by mere accusations or anecdotes” it added.

Of particular concern to the MBC is the potential consequences these political developments may have on the country’s growth momentum.

“We also wish to express serious concern over the implications of impeachment cases on our nation’s development,” it said.

“We worry that these would divert the attention of Congress away from addressing the heavy legislative agenda which, in turn, will have an unfavorable impact to the attainment of the government’s ten-point socioeconomic agenda," the MBC added.

One critical piece on the legislative table is the passage of the tax reform bill which the government’s economic team hopes will form the economic bedrock to push its build, build, build infrastructure push.

The bill has hurdled the House and is now in the hands of the Senate.– Rappler.com