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Saturday, 18 March 2017

Philippines Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez yesterday announced he is considering filing an impeachment case against Vice President Leni Robredo.

Speaker mulling Leni impeachment

Vice President Leni Robredo speaks during the launching of the Araneta Center busport in Cubao, Quezon City yesterday. MICHAEL VARCAS
MANILA, Philippines - There may soon be a battle of impeachments in the House of Representatives.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez yesterday announced he is considering filing an impeachment case against Vice President Leni Robredo.
He made the announcement in a television interview, just hours after linking Robredo in an early morning television program to the impeachment complaint filed Thursday by Rep. Gary Alejano of party-list group Magdalo against President Duterte.
The super majority coalition in the House is expected to throw out Alejano’s complaint. But the coalition has the numbers to impeach Robredo.
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Duterte’s allies also enjoy a majority in the Senate, which will try Robredo in case she is impeached by the House.
Alvarez said the Vice President might have betrayed public trust in sending a video message to the United Nations criticizing President Duterte’s war on drugs, which has resulted in the killing of more than 7,000 suspects by lawmen and vigilantes.]
Betrayal of public trust is one of the grounds under the Constitution for impeaching an official.
“I am studying it. I will not rush into it. I have to make sure that it has sufficient basis so it can stand trial in the Senate,” Alvarez said.
He gave no timetable for filing the case against Robredo.
Alvarez said the Vice President’s message destroyed the country before the international community.
“What effect would that have on our economy?” he asked.
Betrayal?
Robredo’s spokesperson Georgina Hernandez said there is no legal cause to file an impeachment case against the Vice President.
“This is purely baseless we have not really seen any details on it, in fact we want to refuse to comment until very specific issues are raised,” Hernandez told CNN Philippines.
She branded Alvarez’s threat of impeachment against Robredo as “irresponsible statements” coming from the leader of the House without aforethought of the issue’s legality.
As regards Robredo’s video presentation, Hernandez said it should not be considered as betrayal of public trust.
“We do not consider it and it should not be considered as betrayal of public trust primarily because the Vice President simply stated facts that were relayed to her by Filipinos, by urban poor families seeking refuge (and) looking for people from government who could guide them on how to go about perhaps moving forward, coming from the experience of extrajudicial killings,” Hernandez said.
She said Robredo did not portray a negative picture of the country in the video.
“In fact, she was simply echoing what Filipino people are saying,” Hernandez said.
“The video message and the impeachment complaints are two different things,” she added.
Alvarez linked Robredo to the impeachment initiative in the House.
In a television interview, Alvarez said it is clear to him that Robredo was involved in the filing of the first impeachment complaint against Duterte by Alejano.
Asked for proof for his claim, Alvarez said, “That’s very clear. This was preceded by her video message to the United Nations on the alleged extrajudicial killings here, which have no basis.
“She’s rushing to succeed the President. Maybe, she’s afraid that the recount of votes would show that she did not really win,” he added.
MalacaƱang also hinted Robredo was behind Alejano’s impeachment complaint.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Robredo may have allowed herself to be used in a well-orchestrated move to oust Duterte.
Abella claimed it was more than coincidence that Robredo’s video message to the UN preceded the filing of the impeachment case.
Without naming members of the Liberal Party, Abella also directed his tirades against some senators and top officials whom he suspected to be behind the campaign against the administration.
Abella also questioned the timing of Robredo’s UN video message.
He said the confluence of events “seems too neat to be written off as mere coincidence.”
“If it is not her personal intent, she may have played into the hands of those who wish to use her as a political animal. Either way it is a pathetic state of affairs for her,” Abella said.
Abella noted how Robredo lambasted the administration’s war on drugs before an international audience.
He also lashed out at “instigators” of the vicious campaign to impeach Duterte in a well-oiled effort to discredit the present administration.

Spooked

Abella also discussed the hate campaign against Duterte that has led the European Union to believe in the accusations of extrajudicial killings in relation to the administration’s drug war.
“This campaign has provoked abrupt reaction and unwarranted threats from the European Union, spooked by the so-called ‘rights reports’ from high-handed NGOs and a video at the UN that baselessly pillories the Philippine National Police,” Abella said.
“The instigators of this cynical campaign include senators and higher officials who attack the very institutions fighting the crime and contraband that tripled during their term. These are apparently desperate acts to protect their threatened vested interests,” he said.
Abella said the impeachment complaint filed by Alejano was part of the continuing effort to oust Duterte from office.
He said Alejano’s move to file the impeachment complaint on the last session day of Congress raises more questions on his motives.
Alvarez, on the other hand, said it would be Robredo who would benefit in case Duterte is ousted through the impeachment process.
Alvarez presented no other “proof” that Robredo had something to do with the Alejano complaint.
When informed that Duterte said he does not believe Robredo is part of a destabilization campaign against him, the Speaker said, “That’s his perception. Mine is different.”

Tokhang mentality

Alejano himself denied anyone other than his Magdalo group of Oakwood mutineers was involved.
“The 23 members of the Magdalo executive committee, who are all former military officers, solely made the decision to file this complaint,” he said.
Alejano said he and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV are among the committee members.
“Not even any of my six other colleagues in the genuine opposition in the House knew of our decision. I met with them yesterday and I apologized to them,” Alejano said.
Alejano, a former Marine captain who saw action in Mindanao, among other areas, belongs to the minority group led by Reps. Edcel Lagman of Albay and Teodoro Baguilat Jr. of Ifugao.
Reacting to Alvarez’s statement that he and impeachment supporters are “entitled to their own stupidity” and that the impeachment charges are fabricated, Alejano said, “It’s unfortunate to hear that kind of remarks from him. He could have displayed maturity and professionalism instead.”
Another congressman, who refused to be named, said the Speaker’s statement “reflects the tokhang mentality that is infecting a lot of administration officials and allies.”
Alejano also denied Abella’s claims that his complaint was part of a “larger destabilization campaign” against the Duterte administration.
“There is no such thing. There is no extra-legal or extra-constitutional effort against the President. They are the only ones destabilizing themselves with their abuses and excesses,” Alejano said.
He said the impeachment effort is a constitutional process that Magdalo is using to ventilate what it believes are the crimes Duterte has committed.
“The President should welcome it,” he remarked.
As to the timing of the complaint, Alejano said, “Now is the right time. We have to expose his crimes even if he’s popular. We cannot keep quiet or pretend not to know or be afraid like his allies; otherwise, we will be remiss in our duty to serve the people.”
In his 16-page complaint, Alejano accused the President of culpable violation of the Constitution, bribery, graft and corruption, betrayal of public trust and committing other high crimes, which are the grounds for impeachment under the Constitution.
“If this President and his administration are truly democratic and believe in accountability, they should have no other interpretation of this action than an act which is allowed under the Constitution and our democratic space,” Alejano told a news conference after filing his complaint. – With Helen Flores, Christina Mendez

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