THE Department of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday reminded Vice President Leni Robredo that freedom of expression is a right that comes with the responsibility to ensure that facts are verified, and unfounded allegations from questionable sources are avoided.
This was DFA’s reaction to Robredo’s recorded remarks to a side event of the 60th Session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Austria, that criticized the rising death toll due to summary executions in the government’s war on drugs.
“This side event was not part of the official proceedings of the 60th Session of the UN-CND and did not reflect the stand of participating governments,” the DFA said.
“In the UN context, side events, or activities organized outside the formal program of official UN meetings, provide an opportunity for member states, UN entities and NGOs to discuss themes in parallel to the official UN meetings or conferences where the NGOs are not involved,” it added.
The event led by high-level government officials from the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency, the Dangerous Drugs Board, and the Philippine Permanent Mission to the UN in Vienna said the Philippine government remains committed to fight criminality and illegal drugs in the country.
They explained that the Philippine government is investigating the veracity of allegations of drug-related extra-judicial killings, which are being undertaken precisely in strict adherence to due process and the rule of law.
On March 13, in the controversial video first posted on Youtube by the NGO DRCNet, Robredo claimed that indigents rounded up in anti-drug operations were “beaten and physically abused” for asking for a search warrant, a right that authorities said they did not have because they were squatters.
She also cited a “palit-ulo scheme” where the wife, husband, or relative of a person on a drug list “will be taken if the person himself could not be found.’’
The government has denied this scheme.
Also on Wednesday, lawyer Oliver Lozano, who had earlier asked Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to endorse his impeachment complaint against Robredo, said the House should immediately tackle the impeachment case filed against the vice president.
During a media forum on Wednesday in Quezon City, Lozano said Alvarez should already initiate the impeachment process against the Vice President through a special session at the House of Representatives.
“I sent a request to Speaker not to wait until May… This impeachment can be done in April if there is a special session,” Lozano said.
Lozano expressed confidence that the Robredo ouster move will prosper in the House, noting that there are at least 100 congressmen who will support the impeachment try against her.
A vote of at least one-third of all the members of the House is necessary before it can be transmitted to the Senate for trial.
“There is a sufficient number of representatives that will favor the impeachment… There are 100 representatives already,” Lozano said.
“There’s no such thing as a weak or strong impeachment complaint. Impeachment is a numbers game,” he added.
Lozano described Robredo as a “thorn” that hampers the Duterte administration’s pursuit of radical change.
“These dishonest and disloyal misrepresentations of the Vice President have shamed our country,” Lozano said. With PNA
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