MANILA, Philippines – Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Representative Jericho Nograles said the Impeach Leni Movement included his name in their draft impeachment complaint against the Vice President without his consent.
"There is a group of people who want me to endorse something I have not read. And for me, that is improper at best," said Nograles, who went to the press office at the House on Tuesday, May 2, after he was rumored to be in talks with the Impeach Leni Movement.
The group, composed of lawyers and bloggers who support President Rodrigo Duterte, is seeking lawmakers' endorsement of their impeachment complaint against Vice President Leni Robredo.
A Filipino citizen may initiate impeachment of a public official, but the complaint must be endorsed by a lawmaker for the document to be considered officially filed. (READ: FAST FACTS: How does impeachment work?)
In a press conference, the group's spokesperson and lawyer Bruce Rivera said a male lawmaker asked them to bring a copy of the impeachment complaint to his office so he may review it. Rivera said this lawmaker, whom he refused to identify, wants to endorse the complaint.
He said the lawmaker also told the Impeach Leni Movement to distribute copies of the impeachment complaint to other legislators who could endorse it.
But Nograles said he is not the lawmaker Rivera was referring to.
"That would not be me. Whoever that lawmaker is, it surely is not me. I saw the front page of that said complaint bearing my name and the names of other individuals who I do not know," said Nograles.
He explained that Rivera and suspended lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles left a copy of the impeachment complaint in his office on Tuesday without even asking to see him.
"I do not know these people. I have not met them. I have not shook their hands. Even when I asked them, 'Magkakilala ba tayo? (Do we know each other?) Have we ever met? Have we ever spoken to each other?' Ang sagot nila hindi (They said no)," said Nograles.
Nograles and his brother, Davao City 1st District Representative Karlo, are nephews of Duterte, who is the cousin of their mother Rhodora Bendigo.
The family patriarch, former Speaker Prospero Nograles, used to be a longtime political rival of the Duterte family. In two of the elder Nograles' 3 failed bids for Davao City mayor, he lost to a Duterte – first to Rodrigo and then to Rodrigo's daughter, Sara.
But the Nograles family set aside local politics to support Duterte during the 2016 elections, which the latter won by a landslide.
Just a 'misunderstanding?'
The PBA representative later showed reporters a copy of the first page of the draft impeachment complaint.
The document's complainant section reads: "Rose Beatrix Cruz-Angeles, Antonio Contreras, Epimaco Densing III, G Ahmed G Paglinawan, Bruce Rivera, Tomas Berenguer, Through Rep Jericho Nograles, PBA Partylist."
Apart from Nograles, the complainants listed are all members of the Impeach Leni Movement.
. @rapplerdotcom LOOK: Nograles shows 1st page of draft complaint, which lists him as an endorser of Robredo's impeachment without a prior heads up pic.twitter.com/DxRN3acRGy — Mara Cepeda (@maracepeda) May 2, 2017
Sought for clarification, Rivera told Rappler there was a "misunderstanding" between the Impeach Leni Movement and Nograles' camp. He clarified the lawmaker his group is directly talking to is not Nograles either.
"Ang ano kasi diyan (What happened there is that), we were initially asked to talk to several congressmen. Ngayon, 'di naman namin alam sino mag-e-endorse so gumawa kami ng draft letters (We didn't know who will be endorsing so we made draft letters)," said Rivera.
Contrary to Nograles' statement, Rivera said they informed the lawmaker's camp that they would be giving him a copy of the complaint for his review.
"Apparently nagka-misunderstanding… Hindi tama 'yung pagkaka-relay ng information… Dapat babasahin niya muna," said Rivera.
(Apparently there was a misunderstanding… The information was not relayed properly… He should just read it first.)
"Draft lang 'yan (That's just a draft). If we were informed about it, we will not include his name kasi marami naman kaming nakausap (because we are talking to others)," added the former spokesperson and lawyer of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Still, Nograles said he felt disrespected that the Impeach Leni Movement used his name in a draft complaint without his consent.
He said such a move could even be a ground for disbarment.
"I find it highly irregular for attorneys at law to use my name over a document that they prepared without my consent. It can be [a ground for disbarment because of] misrepresentation," said Nograles. – Rappler.com