The impeachment case filed against President Rodrigo Duterte could not have ended in any other way. Impeachment, after all, is a political process. It is a numbers game. The House is dominated by members of the President’s ruling PDP-Laban. After going through the motion of hearing out complainant Magdalo Party-List Rep. Gary Alejano, 42 of the 50 House justice committee members threw out the case for being defective in form and consequently lacking in substance.
Justice committee chairman Rep. Reynaldo Umali described Alejano’s attempt to impeach President Duterte as “frivolous and will not be allowed to happen again.” House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas shot Alejano’s case full of holes particularly on the aspect of the complainant not having any personal knowledge in the charges he lodged against the President. Fariñas was bar topnotcher. He said this was hearsay and double hearsay. He went further to say that Alejano’s allegations were mostly sourced from Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a known critic of the President.
The charges included betrayal of public trust for not defending the territorial sovereignty of the country against China, graft for allegedly amassing millions of pesos in several bank accounts and for the extrajudicial killings in Digong’s deadly war on illegal drugs.
An impeachment case against the President or any head of a duly constitutional body like the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the Office of the Ombudsman, can only be filed once a year.
It does not look like Alejano is going to wait until next year to file a more substantial impeachment case against Duterte. If at all, the impeachment case he filed was only to serve as precursor to the one submitted by a private citizen in the International Criminal Court.
The ICC cannot really do much against an incumbent head of state. The ICC, at this point cannot charge or take Duterte into custody until he’s out of office and an opposition party takes power to hand him, over to the international body. This was what happened to Serbian strong man Slobodan Milosevic when a new Serbian government surrendered him to the ICC. Milosevic was responsible for the massacre of thousands of Muslims during the Balkan War in the 90s in his ethnic cleansing to set up a consolidated coalition of countries that formed the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia ruled by the late Marshal Broz Tito.
Milosevic died of natural causes while in prison. He cheated a final verdict by the ICC. His other cohorts are still in prison and undergoing trial.
President Duterte was in China on official visit while Alejano’s case was being heard in the House. The President simply shrugged off the complaint, confident that his supporters in Congress will not allow it to reach first base.
With the impeachment case out of the House agenda, Congress is now expected to concentrate on legislation. The next big thing that can occupy the House and the Senate would be the testimony of proposed state witness Janet Lim Napoles. The businesswoman is deemed the mastermind of the pork barrel scam carved out of the Priority Development Assistance Fund. There are certain quarters that doubt Napoles was the sole architect of the PDAF scam, done by using dummy NGOs to siphon off community development funds. Suspected are high-ranking officials of the executive branch with the connivance of the Department of Budget and Management that releases the Special Allotment Release Order or SAROs.
A Napoles list of more senators and congressmen is making the rounds of offices and coffee shops. The names however are only mentioned in whispers until Napoles herself blurts out the names in court.