MANILA, Philippines - Congressmen who supported the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona want the five-year-old presidential car replaced by purchasing a new vehicle, saying that the move would amply protect the Chief Executive amid reports of heightened global terrorism.
Acting through its stalwarts, the Movement 188, an organization of congressmen who signed the articles of impeachment, said funds should be earmarked to purchase a new bulletproof and bombproof state vehicle to replace the ''flood damaged one that has been sidelined'' by the Presidential Security Group.
The proposal was contained in House Resolution No. 2191 filed last week in the wake of claims by Malacañang of a fresh threat by alleged political foes of Aquino to oust him from office.
Leaders of Movement 188, among them Reps. Ben Evardone (LP, Eastern Samar); Cesar Sarmiento (LP, Catanduanes); Mel Senen Sarmiento (LP, Western Samar); Antonio del Rosario (LP, Capiz); Roger Mercado (LP, Southern Leyte) and Alfredo Benitez (NPC, Negros Occidental), cited the urgency for the government to acquire a new state car equipped with the latest security features, saying that this would allow the PSG to protect Aquino.
HR 2191 noted that ''the two 1998-model vehicles are already unreliable because of wear and tear, and the relatively newer one bought in 2007 has been beset with intermittent, computer-related engine failures ever since it was submerged in floodwaters during the onslaught of Typhoon Ondoy.''
CATS Motors Inc. which supplied the three vehicles and is currently in-charge of maintaining them, has ''advised the PSG (Presidential Security Group) against deploying'' the newest of the fleet, saying that ''it could malfunction anytime.''
In a memorandum, the PSG has revealed that it has stopped using the repair-prone 2007 limousine as primary or secondary backup vehicle for President Aquino, from the time it conked out on the road during a presidential trip to Baguio City last year.
Evardone disclosed that Aquino currently uses his own car to attend to his appointments.
In the resolution, Movement 188 recommended the re-alignment of funds from government savings for this ''long-needed acquisition of state car for the President.
''Be it resolved as it is hereby resolved, that Movement 188 urges the DBM to help beef up security measures for President Aquino in the face of heightening global terrorist attacks by setting aside funds from government savings for the acquisition of a bulletproof and bombproof presidential state car to replace the flood-damaged official vehicle that has been sidelined by the PSG for security reasons,'' said Movement 188.
It could recalled that IED bombs were used in last year's separate attacks on the convoy of local government secretary Jesse Robredo in Cotabato City and on the convoy of Maguindanao governor Esmael Mangundadatu in Tacurong City.
Nobody was hurt in the Robredo incident but local media reports bared that Maguindanao board member Russman Sinsuat Sr. and a passerby were killed when an EID packed in a parked Kia car exploded and hit the third car in Mangudatatu's convoy.
Local police suspected that Basit Usman, who is on the United States' list of most wanted terrorists with a $1 million price on his head, was behind Robredo's car bombing incident as he is known to be a maker of EID bombs.