MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte may have asked his allies to stop trying to impeach Vice President Leni Robredo, but Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said it is the duty of the House to process all impeachment complaints filed before them.
"We have to do our duty as mandated by the Constitution," Alvarez said on Thursday, March 23, the same day Duterte told his allies to "lay off" any attempts to oust Robredo from office.
Rappler had asked the Speaker if he would no longer file an impeachment complaint against Robredo given the President's request. (READ: Duterte on impeachment vs Robredo: 'Stop it')
Alvarez clarified that the 1987 Constitution requires the House to tackle all impeachment complaints.
"Mayroon pong mandato sa amin ang Konstitusyon to process any impeachment complaint na ihahain sa House of Representatives bilang kami po 'yung may exclusive jurisdiction doon," said Alvarez on GMA-7's Balitanghali.
(The Constitution mandates us to process any impeachment complaint that will be filed before the House of Representatives because we have exclusive jurisdiction over that.)
He is thinking of grounding it on Robredo's remarks against the war on drugs in a video played at an event in Vienna, Austria mounted by a non-governmental organization.
Duterte said Robredo was only exercising her freedom of speech. For Alvarez, however, that does not mean the Vice President can commit an "irresponsible act."
"At 'yung nakita ko po, napanood ko, ay it was so irresponsible na alam 'nyo po, kauna-unahan sa kasaysayan ng Pilipinas na mayroong isang napakakapal ng mukha na isang official ng gobyerno ay nagpadala ng clip sa United Nations, para sirain ang ating bansa," said Alvarez.
(Based on what I've seen, it was irresponsible, this is the first time in Philippine history for me to see such a shameless government official sending a clip to the United Nations to tarnish the country's reputation.)
"For me, that is a betrayal of public trust," he added.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has since clarified that Robredo's video was not played at a UN session, but at a side event that happened alongside the session.
Former Senate president Aquilino Pimentel Jr, the founder of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), also said Robredo's criticism of the drug war does not count as basis for impeachment.
The 1987 Constitution allows an impeachment complaint to 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.
Two Marcos loyalists have already drafted an impeachment complaint against Robredo over the same video. Lawyer Oliver Lozano and broadcaster Melchor Chavez are asking for the endorsement of Alvarez, who has not yet read the complaint.