Alejano slams House as Duterte puppet after losing impeachment bid

MANILA, Philippines – Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano turned emotional after the House justice committee unanimously agreed to junk the impeachment complaint he filed against President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, May 15.

Alejano called for a press conference minutes after the justice panel found his complaint against the President sufficient in form but insufficient in substance, effectively junking the complaint.

"Nagpapakita lamang na hindi independent 'yung House… I want to believe na mayroong integrity ang institution na ito. Pero nakikita natin paulit-ulit na hindi na ito independent," said Alejano.

(This just goes to show that the House is not independent… I want to believe this institution has integrity. But we have repeatedly seen that it is not independent.)

"'Pag ang policy niya ay mali, 'pag ang policy niya will affect the very society, kailangan tumayo tayo. Kaya gusto ko sabihin kanina, ang accountability ng isang pangulo ay 'di nakasalalay sa survey ratings, 'di nakasalalay sa supermajority ng Kongreso, 'di nakasalalay sa investment sa ibang bansa or pera lamang. Nakasalalay 'yan sa provision ng Saligang Batas. Kahit ikaw ay pangulo you're not above the law," he added.

(If his policy is wrong and will affect society, we need to take a stand. What I want to say is that the accountability of a president is not based on survey ratings, the supermajority in Congress, the investments of other countries, or money. It's based on the Constitution. Even if you are the president, you are not above the law.)

Alejano filed the impeachment complaint against Duterte last month. It only took the justice committee around 3 hours of debate and an hour of executive session to reject the document.

Lawmakers argued Alejano had no direct personal knowledge of his accusations against Duterte and only based them on "hearsay." They did not accept Alejano's explanation that his knowledge comes from authentic documents. 

The opposition lawmaker said his colleagues were already discussing the merits of the complaint's substance when they were still at the stage of reviewing its form.  

"I was not given the chance to explain," said Alejano.

The mutineer-turned-lawmaker then acknowledged he is not a lawyer like many members of the justice committee.

"Yes, hindi ako abogado. Hindi ako abogado na magaling na magpaikot-ikot sa batas. Ako ay dating sundalo. Ang alam ko lamang ay kung paano i-defend ang bansang ito," said Alejano. 

(Yes, I am not a lawyer. I am not a lawyer who is good at interpreting the law. I am a former soldier. What I know is how to defend this country.)

He had to pause for a few seconds as he held back tears. He then thanked the reporters for covering his press conference.

Duterte counts at least 267 out of the 293 lawmakers in the House as his allies. A total of 121 legislators are also members of his party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

Challenge to politicians: Bare your bank accounts 

"Sanay naman ho tayo sa mahigpit na mga laban (I'm used to fighting hard battles). The very reason why we are here in Congress is because we want to avail of the legal system. We want to avail of the process of the government," said Alejano. 

He then challenged public officials to sign a waiver to bare their bank transactions to the public. 

"I would like to challenge all public officials na pirmahan nila 'yung waiver! Kasama ako! 'Yun ang 'pinangako ng Presidente! Mag-pirma kayo ng waiver lahat, pati kami! Para makita natin kung sino ang mayaman sa bansang ito. Kung sino nga ba ang oligarkiya na sinasabi ng Pangulo, na sa katotohanan, kasama siya sa oligarkiya. Bilyon-bilyon ang laman ng kanyang mga accounts," said Alejano.

(I would like to challenge public officials to sign the waiver! Me too! That's the promise of the President! We should all sign waivers so that we'll know who are the rich people in this country, who are the oligarchs the President is referring to. In truth, he is among the oligarchs. He has billions of pesos in his bank accounts.)

During the campaign season, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV had accused Duterte of having P2.4 billion in his bank accounts, which Alejano included in his impeachment complaint against the President.  

Duterte and his then-running mate Alan Peter Cayetano signed a manifesto allowing their bank accounts to be scrutinized by the public. 

Trillanes revived the accusation earlier this year, but the Anti-Money Laundering Council rejected his request to release the President's "flagged or reported" transactions.

For his part, Trillanes said the move was "totally expected," but added that he was still dismayed.

"Nag-eexpect ka sana na itong Kongreso, magiging instrumento para mabuksan 'yung katotohanan. Ngayon dahil pinagtatakpan, eh mapupunta na lang tayo sa ibang modes kung papaano lalabas ang katotohanan na iyon," he said.

(You're expecting that this Congress can become an instrument to reveal the truth. But now that it's being covered up, we'll have to resort to other modes on how we can get the truth to surface.) – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

image