Never has Philippine politics seen this spectacle: both the President and Vice President facing impeachment complaints.
This scenario is unfolding fast, with impeachment complaints filed against President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo.
Duterte and Robredo do not belong to the same political camps that battled it out just in the May 2016 national election in the Philippines.
On March 23, Duterte played down an impeachment complaint filed against him at the House of Representatives, saying that he does not care if he is ousted.
“Then it would be part of my destiny,” Duterte told an audience of lawyers at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ (IBP) 16th National Convention for Lawyers.
“I do not give a sh*t if I stay here for only one year of if barilin ako or if I’m ousted… Yung takutin ako: impeachment, coup d etat, beterano ako,” he said.
(I do not give a sh*t if I’m ousted, if I stay here for only one year, if I am shot or ousted… Scare me with impeachment, coup d’etat, I’m a veteran.)
Magdalo Party-List Rep. Gary Alejano has filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte for alleged high crimes, betrayal of public trust, and abuse of power.
The president called out Alejano and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s group for allegedly pretending to be nationalists, when they could not see through their causes as soldiers.
Trillanes, one of the most vocal critics of Duterte’s war on drugs, is supporting two self-confessed hitmen, Edgar Matobato and Arturo Lascañas, who said they took orders from Duterte.
Duterte has repeatedly denied involvement in the so-called death squad.
“Ito na mga Pilipino na ‘nationalist,’ pumunta ng Peninsula, ninakaw magagandang linen, lahat, pati piano kinarga. Ni-ransack lahat. Pagdating ng mga pulis, sumurrender. Tapos ngayon sila yung akala mo,‘crusader,’” Duterte said.
(These supposed “nationalists” stormed the Peninsula, stole the linen, the piano. They ransacked everything. When the police came, they surrendered. Now, they act like crusaders.)
Duterte was apparently referring the 2007 siege on the Manila Peninsula hotel by rebel soldiers led by Trillanes and Alejano.
“Prangka tayo, they want me ousted. Who’s behind it? Itong si Trillanes, him and his elf, itong si De Lima, gusto na niya akong paalisin. Pangatlo, si Leni (Vice-President Robredo), bakit pa siya maghintay [to be president] eh nandyan na opportunity,” he said.
(Let’s be frank. They want me ousted. Who’s behind it? Trillanes, him and his elf, De Lima. He wants me out. Third, Leni. Why would she wait to be president when the opportunity is there?)
Also on March 23, Robredo tagged the Marcos family and its supporters as the possible masterminds of the impeachment case against her.
A lawyer associated with former President Ferdinand Marcos filed an impeachment complaint against Robredo for her criticism of the administration’s bloody war on drugs.
In a letter addressed to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Lozano and another Marcos supporter, Melchor Chavez, said Robredo “committed acts of injustice” when she spread “fake news” about the Philippines to the world when she sent a video to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting (CND), criticizing the government’s war on drugs.
Another group called “Impeach Leni Team” is set to file a second impeachment bid against Robredo once session resumes in May.
“Mahirap po yata talagang kalaban yung mga Marcos… Parang dinadamay yung buong bansa dahil ayaw tanggapin yung pagkatalo,” Robredo said alluding to her election victory against former senator Bongbong Marcos.
Marcos lost to Robredo in the May 2016 vice presidential race by 263,473 votes.
Marcos’ camp has filed an election protest against Robredo alleging that there was massive vote-buying, pre-shading of ballots, pre-loaded secure digital cards, misreading of ballots, malfunctioning vote counting machines, and a script change in the transparency server that allegedly altered the results in the VP race.
Robredo said she has been battered by criticisms and allegations after she defeated the Ilocano solon for the second highest position in the country.
“Siguro kung hindi Marcos yung kalaban natin, hindi ganito kagulo,” she said.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said he will support House Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez on his planned impeachment complaint against Robredo despite Duterte’s pronouncement to end to any ouster move against the Vice President.
“I am going to support it. Ang alam ko si Speaker ang nagsusulong… Si Presidente (Duterte) naman, personal opinion niya lang yun. But it will be the power, it will be a congressional call not president’s call,” Aguirre told reporters in a recent interview.
Aguirre vowed to support the impeachment charges against Robredo based on her video message against President Duterte and his administration sent to the United Nations Commission on Narcotics Drugs, believing they have basis in law.
“Ang ginawa n’ya, pinahiya niya ang Pilipinas so I’m sure na aside from damaging the image of the Philippines, may epekto yan economically,” he noted.
Earlier, Solicitor General Jose Calida said he will support Alvarez’s plan to file an impeachment complaint against Robredo over the latter’s video to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs where she criticized the conduct of the administration’s anti-drug campaign.
“I fully understand and support the sentiment of Speaker Bebot Alvarez that VP Robredo should be rightfully condemned for slandering and selling out our country and its leaders before the UN Commission on Narcotics Drugs,” Calida said.
“VP Robredo debased her office and herself by betraying the trust of our people. Worse, she shamelessly pandered to the desperate desire of Yellow Cult to depose President Duterte which if successful, will immensely benefit her. Obviously, the carping VP Robredo has joined the ranks of the destabilizers,” he added.