MANILA, Philippines – A group of lawyers and bloggers supporting President Rodrigo Duterte is drafting an impeachment complaint against Vice President Leni Robredo.
The following Duterte supporters, who dub themselves the “Impeach VP Leni Team,” held a press conference on Thursday, March 23, to declare their plans against the Vice President:
- Trixie Cruz-Angeles, suspended lawyer
- Tom Berenguer, lawyer
- Antonio Contreras, professor at De La Salle University
- Epimaco Densing III, assistant secretary for plans and programs at the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)
- Ahmed Paglinawan, lawyer
- Bruce Rivera, lawyer
According to the group’s spokesperson Rivera, they have long been calling out Robredo on social media, even before she criticized Duterte’s war against drugs in a video played at an event in Vienna, Austria mounted by a non-governmental organization. (READ: Robredo video not played at UN meeting, DFA says)
“Yet it appears that not only has she continued unabated in her actions to the Filipino people, but she seems to be stepping up her ante, using her position as Vice President to peddle lies and distortions of reality,” said Rivera.
“And despite public outrcy, Leni Robredo remains persistent, unrepentant, and diabolical. Leni Robredo has gone too far,” added Rivera, who was the lawyer and spokesperson for alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
The group said Robredo may have violated the 1987 Constitution and betrayed public trust when she gave “false” figures on the war on drugs in her video. Rivera said Robredo was wrong when she said more than 7,000 drug suspects have already been killed. (READ: IN NUMBERS: The Philippines’ ‘war on drugs’)
“Are these numbers being supported by evidence? Well technically, if you look at it from the point of view of statistics, it’s not! It’s actually a distorted number… And as Vice President, she cannot put us to the dogs. ‘Di niya tayo puwedeng ilagay sa basura (She can’t throw us in the garbage),” he said.
Contreras said they will also be looking into the Vice President’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) to double-check if she has any undeclared wealth.
Rivera then called on other lawyers and other “learned” individuals to help them in their ongoing case build-up against Robredo.
Should they push through with their plan, the Impeach VP Leni Team’s complaint will be the 2nd to be drafted against Robredo.
Two Marcos loyalists – lawyer Oliver Lozano and broadcaster Melchor Chavez – already asked Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to endorse an impeachment complaint they drafted last week.
Alvarez himself is mulling filing an impeachment complaint against Robredo over the same video.
The Robredo camp already said the Vice President only stated facts in the video. Her legal adviser Barry Gutierrez also called Alvarez’s plan against Robredo a form of “harassment.”
‘Not for Duterte, but for Filipinos’
Duterte, however, already urged his allies to stop trying to impeach the Vice President.
“Guys, lay off. Stop it. You can do other things but do not tinker with the structure of the government. I will not countenance it. Elected ‘yang tao eh (She was elected),” said the President.
But Rivera said they will continue with their plan. He added that they want Duterte to focus on serving the people instead.
“We understand the President’s predicament… But we are not doing this for the President. We are doing this for the Filipino people… We need him to do his job.We don’t want him to be worried about Leni,” said Rivera.
He also said the planned impeachment complaint against Robredo is not a mere reaction to the one filed against Duterte by Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano last week.
“Hindi kami gang na bumubuwelta or rumeresbak (We’re not a gang acting out of revenge)… We are not defending President Duterte in the impeachment case,” said Rivera.
He added that the members decided to come together to form the Impeach VP Leni Team voluntarily. Rivera added no one is funding them.
The 1987 Constitution allows an impeachment complaint be filed against the President, Vice President, members of the Supreme Court, members of constitutional commissions, and the Ombudsman. (READ: FAST FACTS: How does impeachment work?)
Any member of the House of Representatives can initiate a verified impeachment complaint. Any Filipino citizen may also file a complaint, but it has to be endorsed by a lawmaker.
Rivera said they are already in contact with a lawmaker, but refused to specify who.
“Meron pero hindi pa namin masabi pa kasi ayaw naming i-preempt (We are talking to someone but we can’t say who because we don’t want to preempt this),” he said. – Rappler.com