Whether the move to impeach President Rodrigo Duterte will pass muster in the House is doubtful given the administration’s grip on the supermajority in the lower chamber. It is in the House where the impeachment process is initiated. If passed with one-third of the total members voting yes, the proposal is submitted to the Senate which then convenes itself into an impeachment court.
The Palace and those who have spoken on the issue supporting the President are dismissing the impeachment case by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano as baseless and wishful thinking. As usual, the sycophants are led by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Presidential Legal Adviser Salvador Panelo. It’s comforting that Miscommunications Secretary Martin “Pa-andar” Andanar no longer speaks for the President after a series of gaffes and conflicting statements
The sober Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abello with his deep, clear voice is a welcome change. He, of course, also expressed the view that Alejano’s attempt to impeach Duterte will not succeed.
It is as it should be that Cabinet officials should defend the President. But of those who do, some do not seem to realize that their strident and banal utterances only come out as a disservice to their principal.
A recurring theme in their defense of the President is that the impeachment move is all part of a grand scheme to destabilize the Duterte administration. The Liberal Party and its current highest official, Vice President Leni Robredo, are behind the ouster plot, so claimed the Duterte die-hards. Don’t these die-hards know, the Liberal Party is a spent force after the May elections? The LP ranks have been decimated and these political opportunists have jumped ship to join the party in power. Mining firms opposing the confirmation of Energy and Environment Secretary Gina Lopez by the bicameral Commission on Appointments are also blamed as funding the destabilization plot against Duterte. Only Mommy Dionisia, Manny Pacquiao’s mother, has not yet been linked to the destab stew.
There is a line of thought that when you cook using charcoal, you yourself fan the coals so they become red hot. Is the Palace itself fanning the flame of destabilization to declare martial law? Duterte himself has floated the idea when he said he might declare martial in parts of Mindanao to stem the runaway lawlessness? Is this a prelude to declare martial law nationwide ? The President. after all, can harness the full resources of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to fight the Abu Sayyaf, the Muslim secessionists and the communist New People’s Army without declaring Martial Law.
The bill of particulars in the impeachment case filed by Rep. Alejano includes the following: Betrayal of public, violations of human rights in the extrajudicial killings of suspects in Digong’s brutal war on drugs, graft and corruption for amassing P2.2 billion in various bank accounts during his term as Davao City mayor, and for allowing Chinese ships to ply the waters of Benham Rise which has been declared part of the Philippine continental shelf by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Only 250 kilometers off Aurora province in the country’s northeastern seaboard, the 13-million hectare ( the same size as Luzon) undersea landmass is potentially rich in minerals and natural gas. This could be an alternative source of revenue for the government if and when Duterte decides to stick with DENR Secretary Gina Lopez and impose a total ban on mining.
A total ban on mining is a shame, a waste of potential earnings and livelihood. The President can do better if he chooses to appoint someone who can strike a balance between protecting the environment and allow the mining companies to clean up their act and continue operating.
China claimed the Chinese ships were not surveying the under seabed of Benham Rise but were merely making innocent passage in international waters. Yeah, right. When has China’s move ever been innocent? We have seen how China seized Scarborough Shoal from us and then turned the shoals, reefs and protruding rocks into military installations effectively fencing off the West Philippine Sea to stake their spurious claim to nearly the entire South China Sea.
Alejano’s impeachment move may sound like a voice in the wilderness in the current scheme of things—a controlled Congress and still-entrenched President only nine months into his six-year term. Alejano’s impeach move may be suspect since he was part of the failed coup attempt of then navy mutineer Capt. Sonny Trillanes during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The bold move, if at all, sends a message to the powers-that-be no one not even the most powerful man in the country is immune from accountability. That is a fundamental precept in the country’s Constitution.
The impeachment move even it does not succeed could serve as a precursor to lay the basis for future charges in the International Criminal Court. The European Parliament has already weighed in on the alleged extrajudicial killings in Duterte’s brutal war on illegal drugs.