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Word war pits LP vs Alvarez

SOLICITOR General Jose Calida on Sunday backed Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s plan to impeach Vice President Leni Robredo for treason by slandering President Rodrigo Duterte and the government before a United Nations event, but the UN denied the video address prepared by Robredo was shown at the plenary of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting.

“We would like to let you know that the video message of Philippines Vice President Leonor Robredo was shown during a side event  at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting, at the Vienna International Center on 16 March 2017,” UN Information Centre Manila said in a statement.

“The side event, titled ‘Human Rights Challenge: Responding to Extrajudicial Killings in the Drug War,’ was organized by the DRCNet Foundation,” the statement said. 

“It was not shown during the plenary and the United Nations was not responsible for it,” the UN Information Center added.

But Calida described as a “treasonous act” Robredo’s video message, which criticized President Duterte’s war on drugs and claimed that over 7,000 fell prey to extrajudicial killings by policemen and vigilantes.

“VP [vice president] 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,” Calida said.

Calida said he agreed with  Alvarez that Robredo “should be rightfully condemned for slandering and selling out our country and its leaders before the UN.”

Calida vowed to lend the legal services of his office to help in the proposed impeachment of the vice president, saying it is “unfortunate” that Robredo now “will reap the people’s wrath and contempt.”

Alvarez said he would have Robredo impeached after he linked her to the impeachment complaint filed last Thursday by Rep. Gary Alejano of party-list group Magdalo against President Duterte.

Both Robredo and Alejano quickly denied this allegation.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez (left) and Vice President Leni Robredo

The super majority coalition in the House is expected to throw out Alejano’s complaint, but the coalition has the numbers to impeach Robredo.

Duterte’s allies also enjoy a majority in the Senate, which will try Robredo in case she is impeached by the House.

The speaker said the vice president might have betrayed public trust in her video message to the UN that destroyed the image of the country before the international community.

Betrayal of public trust is one of the grounds under the Constitution for impeachment of an official, which law and political experts both consider as a numbers game.  

Robredo’s video message, posted by the DRCNet Foundation on YouTube last March 13, was played at the “Human Rights Challenge: Responding to Extrajudicial Killings in the Drug War,” a side session for the 60th United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs annual meeting on March 16 at the Vienna International Center. 

The Palace said an impeachment complaint against Robredo was within the purview of the speaker.

“The evaluation of the possible grounds for impeachment and the decision to file the complaint are the prerogative of the House of Representatives,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said Saturday night.

“The President is focused on governance and public welfare, especially the building of an inclusive and progressive nation free from crime, drugs and corruption,” Abella said.

“He is leaving for Myanmar and Thailand tomorrow to enhance ties with two of our Southeast Asian neighbors, as our country hosts the Asean Conference this year,” said Abella.

Alvarez, a close Duterte ally, revealed on Friday that he was considering filing an impeachment complaint against Robredo.

Alvarez  earlier linked her to a plot to unseat Duterte.

The House Speaker  believed that Robredo should be impeached for “betrayal of public trust.”

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Sunday said Robredo should correct the figures she mentioned in her video stating that “more than 7,000 people have been killed in summary executions” since the drug war started in July 2016.

Data from the Philippine National Police said there were only 2,582 killed in legitimate drug operations while the remaining 4,049 were deaths under investigation. 

He further said that she did not bother to mention that there were police personnel killed and injured in the same drug war.

“She reported to the UN that 7,000 were summarily executed. Fact is, government side suffered 38 casualties in 2,000 police operations. She should correct it,” Lacson said on his Twitter account.

“I’ve no agenda except fairness based on facts. We owe it to the 28 PNP and AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] personnel killed and 86 wounded in action as of Jan 28, 2017,” he added.

The senator, meanwhile, pointed out that Robredo’s party mates in the Liberal Party were apparently using her and leading her to her downfall.

“They are leading her to the quicksand to advance their own political interests. I hope she realizes it sooner than later…What a waste,” Lacson said.

Earlier, former delegate to the United Nations General Assembly Francis Acebedo Lopez also hit Robredo for “misrepresenting” millions of Filipinos in her video.

Lopez said Robredo “wantonly painted an impossibly grim image of the Philippine situation if only to attract international attention and action with unfounded claims and unsubstantiated allegations.”

He further said that Robredo “has not only embarrassed our country, she has betrayed the public trust and committed economic sabotage, both punishable under Philippine laws”.

Robredo’s spokesperson Georgina Hernandez, insisted that the vice president’s video only stated the condition of the Philippines.

She said the summary killings have long attracted international attention. With PNA

Topics: Solicitor General Jose Calida , House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez , Vice President Leni Robredo , President Rodrigo Duterte , UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting
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