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Leni crosses the line

Sh—t just got real, as they say. And soon there will be hell to pay.

You could say that the political opposition to the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is not acting in concert and according to a more or less well-thought-out game plan and a predetermined schedule. But you could be wrong.

Yesterday, Vice President Leni Robredo gave a pre-recorded videotaped speech before the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Austria. Robredo attacked Duterte’s tough anti-drug campaign in a foreign forum, thus opening herself up to criticism that she was “taking the fight against the President” to the UN.

Back in Manila, a party-list congressman identified closely with high-profile Duterte critic Senator Antonio Trillanes, Magdalo’s Gary Alejano, filed the very first impeachment complaint against the President. Among other alleged crimes, Alejano accused Duterte of killing drug suspects wholesale as president since the middle of last year and also as mayor of Davao City for more than two decades earlier, as the prime mover of the so-called Davao Death Squad.

As Robredo was making statements before a UN body that could be made a basis for her impeachment on the grounds of betrayal of public trust and even economic sabotage, Trillanes’ Congress stooge started the process of removing Duterte by impeaching him. It could be coincidental – but you’d have to be really naive not to see the two separate actions by Duterte’s critics as part of the ongoing and long-running campaign to remove the President.

Robredo, Trillanes, Senator Leila de Lima (before she was thrown into detention) and their confreres, of course, have been attacking Duterte from Day One of his presidency, with little success. But yesterday’s escalation of the oust-Duterte campaign shows just how desperate the opposition has become because of how little traction their previous efforts have been getting.

First of all, I don’t think Robredo can be accused of not knowing what she was doing when she agreed to blast Duterte before a UN conference. She must have understood that by taking her political battle to an international forum, she could have betrayed the trust placed in her that she will uphold the Constitution and submit to duly constituted authority as the second-highest official in the land.

And she must have realized that her speech, based on unverified rumor and innuendo and not on official documents or statistics, could have endangered the Philippines’ prospects for aid and investments, thus making it an economic crime, as well. Even Robredo, who is no genius, must have known that.

Second, as far as Alejano’s impeachment complaint is concerned, Duterte’s opponents seem hell-bent on laying the legal predicate for filing charges against the President in venues outside the country, like the International Criminal Court. Because Duterte cannot be legally removed except by impeachment, Alejano, his puppet-master Trillanes and the rest know that they do not even have to win in a House vote to impeach the President.

Duterte’s opponents only need to prove that they exhausted the legal processes to remove him. The international busybodies, their agencies and tribunals, they hope, will take it from there and do what they cannot.

* * *

Of course, the people who want Duterte removed have long understood that their usual methods of pressure politics will not work with this President. This was the lesson they learned when they opposed the burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos and during the recent anniversary of their “people power” revolution.

The people will not stand for the remove-Duterte nonsense constantly emanating from Robredo, Trillanes and their gang. And they can see that this shift in strategy—from inciting them to inciting gullible foreign agencies and tribunals— is a desperate attempt to leave them out of the political equation.

The people have learned not to allow the elites to rob their chosen leaders of the mandate to rule that they have been given. Their response to the incessant attacks on the President they have made their own will be swift and the damage they will wreak could be politically fatal.

In particular, Robredo, who is apparently driven by fears of her own removal in an impending recount of the votes cast in last year’s election, has—in her own words—crossed the line. She had better be prepared to face the consequences of escalating her fight with Duterte before the UN.

Trillanes, Alejano and their group of hired guns of the Yellows, must also get ready for the backlash against them. While we should perhaps be glad, as Senator Panfilo Lacson has wryly noted, that the Magdalo are no longer taking up guns to seize power these days, they will still be made to account for their previous crimes against the country and the people in the proper legal forum.

Most Filipinos are getting really tired of the antics of the politicians who cannot seem to understand that they want Duterte to fulfill his promises to them and get the country back on track after six years of incompetence and uncaring by the political masters of Robredo and Trillanes. The do-nothing critics will be made to pay for disrespecting the people and the choices they made when they picked Duterte.

Topics: President Rodrigo Duterte administration , Vice President Leni Robredo , United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs , Anti-drug campaign
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