House urged to back oust-Robredo bid
A SERIAL accuser who has filed impeachment complaints against two presidents on Monday took aim at Vice President Leni Robredo and urged House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to endorse his prepared impeachment complaint against her.
Taking his cue from Alvarez, who threatened to file an impeachment complaint against Robredo, lawyer Oliver Lozano was joined by the nuisance senatorial candidate Melchor Chavez to submit their six-page complaint. With a cover letter that explained why Robredo had to be removed from office.
“We respectfully request that you endorse the attached complaint for impeachment against Leni Robredo. She is the termite of the government. Her unfaithfulness has extended to the betrayal of the public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution,” said Lozano and Chavez, in a letter that was received by the speaker’s office at 4:40 p.m. Monday.
While Lozano and Chavez were apparently trying to impeach Robredo as vice president, the two accusers never addressed her as Vice President in their draft impeachment complaint.
They simply addressed her as Leni Robredo.
Lozano had tried to impeach former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo five times and former President Benigno Aquino III twice, but to no avail.
The two accusers wanted Robredo ousted for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust after her video message sent to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs criticizing the extrajudicial killings was deemed “acts of injustice.”
They said the vice president was duty bound to promote truth, justice and common good.
“But Leni Robredo has committed acts of injustice prejudicial to the nation and public welfare which constitutes culpable violation of the Constitution,” said the two accusers, who identified themselves as officials of the Volunteers for Good Government.
“She betrayed the people by shaming the nation with her dishonest message to the United Nations. [She] is duty-bound to act within the framework of the Constitution, but her acts of dishonesty and moral bankruptcy breached the bounds of the fundamental law,” they said.
Alvarez refused to comment on the accusers’ request for his endorsement. “I have not seen the draft,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Alvarez said in a television interview that he was “seriously studying” the filing of an impeachment complaint against Robredo, whom he tagged as being behind the impeachment complaint filed last week by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano against President Rodrigo Duterte.
Alvarez had said he was convinced Robredo was behind the impeachment because “she would benefit once the President was ousted.”
Alvarez also said he did not recognize Robredo as the country’s second highest official in the land and would not even call her vice president because he was “not yet sure if she indeed won the vice presidency.”
He said he would wait for the results of the proceedings being undertaken by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, which would rule on whether or not she won in the recount sought by former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
House Deputy Speaker Miro Quimbo, a Liberal Party member allied with the supermajority of Alvarez, said: “The House of Representatives should not spend a single second on this baseless complaint. It’s a mere scrap of paper that is supported not by any evidence but by mere erroneous conclusions of law. Congress will only end up wasting time better spent on much needed legislation including those on tax reform, criminal justice overhaul, traffic crises act as well as those that seek to make economic gains more inclusive.
“Congress should not allow itself to be used by these recidivist impeachers who trivialize this deeply sacred accountability measure enshrined in our Constitution. We must not allow Congress and its members to be dragged into their petty political charades,” Quimbo said.
“Ginagawa nilang dalawa singko ang impeachment [They are cheapening the act of impeachment]. It’s a travesty to our political institutions if we are to allow these people to cheapen this process,” Quimbo added.
House Deputy Minority Leader Harry Roque said the administration has the numbers to impeach Robredo but that the words of the vice president were insufficient by themselves to prove betrayal of public trust.
“For the impeachment complaint against her to succeed in the Senate, the complainants must have other evidence to show that she intends to remove the President from office in order to succeed him,” Roque said.
He said the evidentiary challenge to convict Robredo in the Senate was to link her with the Magdalo.
“I would like to appeal to the speaker that while the majority has the numbers to impeach Vice President Robredo in the House, the House of Representatives should also ensure conviction in the Senate to safeguard integrity and reputation of the House, and this, too, entails case building,” Roque said.
Roque said he believes the impeachment complaints against Duterte and Robredo would not prosper due to lack of evidence.
Roque appealed to all political forces for Lenten meditation and reflection, especially in the wake of impeachment charges being hurled against the President and the vice president by their respective supporters.
“My appeal, hence, is this: Representative Alejano should withdraw his complaint to prevent an avoidable political turmoil that would paralyze lawmaking in the House,” he said.
Roque said resorting to impeachment and counter-impeachment would result in legislative paralysis that would endanger the passage of bills.
As of press time, not a single congressman has come forward to endorse the Lozano complaint.
The draft needs an endorsement from a lawmaker to make it a “verified complaint” that would merit a hearing in the committee level to determine the complaint’s sufficiency in form and substance.
The impeachment complaint can skip scrutiny of the committee and the plenary and would be transmitted straight to the Senate for an impeachment trial if the complaint garners three-fourths or signatures of 197 of the 292 House members.
Congress is on a six-week break and will resume its sessions on May 2.
On Monday, the international anti-drug group that released Robredo’s video condemning alleged police abuses denied Palace statements that it was meant to coincide with the impeachment complaint filed against President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The speaker of the House has threatened to hold an impeachment vote against Vice President Robredo, and the President’s office has charged that she timed the release of the video to coincide with an impeachment motion that was filed against President Duterte the next day,” said DRCNet Foundation Executive Director David Borden.
“As the organizer of the event at the UN, I can attest that the date of our forum was scheduled months ago by UN staff, and the vice president’s office did not make any requests of us as to timing or any other matters,” he added.
“We released it a few days before the session as a media strategy to draw attention to President Duterte’s atrocities,” Borden said.
Calling for international scrutiny to the President’s controversial drug crackdown, the country’s second highest official in a video message to a United Nations meeting on extrajudicial killings posted online said that if police officers could not find a drug suspect, they would detain one of his or her relatives instead.
The government has denied her claim, saying drug suspects were allowed to work for lighter sentences if they turned in someone higher in the drug heirarchy.
Robredo’s comments to the UN meeting were among her strongest criticisms against the President, who sacked her last year over policy differences.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said he would not take the place of Robredo if she is impeached.
“No, I’m enjoying it here. There’s more problems here, it’s happier. Never a boring a moment,” said Pimentel in response to the query if he is willing to succeed Robredo.
Pimentel also said he will not automatically become the vice president if Robredo is impeached.
The Senate leader urged the LP to denounce the filing of the impeachment case against Duterte if indeed the group were not behind it or part of it.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he does not see any betrayal of public trust in the Robredo’s controversial video, saying it was part of democracy to criticize government policy.
But the VolunteersAgainst Crime and Corruption (VACC) on Monday said they are looking into the possibility of filing a disbarment case against Vice President Leni Robredo over her video.
VACC founding chairman Dante Jimenez condemned Robredo’s video as a “despicable act of treachery,” “un-Filipino,” “unpatriotic” and a “serious breach of trust against the Filipino people” because it used unfounded allegations to criticize the government before the international community.
“She is ruthlessly shaming before the global community the President she is mandated to serve as his VP. She is recklessly destroying the image of her own country with unverified charges. In the process, she is also pulling down Filipinos. This is a treacherous act and as an elected public official, this is tantamount to treason,” he added. With PNA