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Leni impeachment likely

We hear a lot about impeachment these days—first, a complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, bribery, hidden wealth and what-have-you, and then, against Vice President Leni Robredo for betrayal of public trust, even treason. 

The impeachment case against the President is about the more than 7,000 deaths in relation to his administration’s war on drugs, and on the killings by the Davao Death Squad when he was still mayor of Davao City. 

The complaint against Robredo, on the other hand, was the aftermath of her message at an event of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs where she portrayed the Philippines as a failed state. Adding flavor to her claims, Robredo even talked about “palit-ulo” —whenever a target for illegal drugs was not around, the police would target the relatives instead. 

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has called Robredo’s message to the UN a betrayal of public trust.

Impeachment originates at the House of Representatives, and our Congress is now dominated by the so-called supermajority. 

So as to the complaint against President Duterte, filed by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano (remember that Magdalo was led by now Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a known Duterte critic), I am certain it will not even pass the committee level. If the lower House can railroad the death penalty bill, it can very easily dismiss an impeachment complaint against the President.  

It will be the opposite case for Robredo.  Even as I write this column now, there are moves in Congress to push the impeachment complaint. The endorsement of Solicitor General Jose Calida does not hurt. 

I heard Robredo’s message to the UN body.  My immediate reaction was that it was a stupid thing for a vice president to do.  It is just one person’s opinion, of course, but she is the vice president of the republic! She is a lawyer—she should have known better. 

All things considered, Alvarez should now make good on his threat to file an impeachment case against Robredo for that stupid message to the UN.  Robredo and the Liberal Party should realize the futility of the destabilization campaign they are attempting on the Duterte administration. 

The allies of President Duterte should not talk of any destabilization attempts, either. They know that the President still enjoys the support of the majority of Filipinos.  The economic growth is being sustained so there is no cause to oust him.  

As I have been writing, no amount of so-called destabilization attempts will succeed without the support of the Armed Forces.  

But here is a question:  If the Vice President is impeached and convicted by the Senate, who will be Vice President?

Section 9 of Article VII of the Constitution provides: “Whenever there is a vacancy in the Office of the Vice President during the term for which he was elected, the President shall nominate a vice president from among the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives who shall assume office upon confirmation by a majority of all members of both Houses of Congress, voting separately.”

Note well that the Constitution will not confer the title of vice president to former Senator Bongbong Marcos automatically unless the Presidential Electoral Tribunal decides in his favor in his electoral protest against Robredo. 

There are two members of the House of Representatives I’d like to commend for their conviction and competence. 

The first is former President, now Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,  who lost her position as deputy speaker for Central Luzon because she opposed the death penalty bill. 

She knew she would lose her deputy speakership, yet she voted the way she did, anyway. 

Another House member I would like to congratulate is Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato for her manner of questioning during the Commission on Appointments’ confirmation hearing of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay and Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez. 

Sato was responsible for the CA’s rejection of Yasay. It was her questions that led to the revelation that Yasay was lying about his citizenship.  The questions she threw at Lopez also convinced CA members to bypass the latter.

It’s likely Lopez’s appointment would be rejected when Congress resumes its session on May 3. 

I listened to what happened during the confirmation hearings of Yasay and Lopez.  I never doubted Sato’s competence. She is an excellent member of both the Philippine Bar and California Bar. 

***

I was in Subic almost two weeks ago, and it did not surprise me that the freeport is as clean as it should be. 

Subic Freeport surroundings are garbage-free. Trees are trimmed. The people I know there all say that the combination of Martin Diño as chairman and lawyer Wilma Eisma as administrator make a good combination.  

Topics: President Rodrigo Duterte , Vice President Leni Robredo , Impeachment
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