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(Photo from Facebook | @LeniRobredoPH)


MANILA (PhilAmPress) — A group of volunteer lawyers and professors are mulling a second impeachment complaint against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo but President Rodrigo Duterte, who himself is facing a separate impeachment complaint, had asked them and his allies to stop the filing of complaint.


This developed as House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez  said he is studying the possibility of filing an impeachment complaint against Robredo, whom he accused of having a hand in the first impeach move against Duterte.


Robredo herself said he supported Duterte’s statement that the impeachment process was too early for her and the President who have just started their six-year term.


Robredo, who was invited by the President together with her daughters to a dinner in Malacanang, at the same time, expressed doubt about the impeachment complaint against Mr. Duterte, pointing out that the allegations against the President were acts when he was the mayor of Davao City.


 Robredo said any moves to impeach Duterte and herself would be a distraction to governance and further polarize the country.


She said she shared Duterte’s opinion on impeachment. “Wala pang isang taon kaming nahahalalmaraming problema na dapat asikasuhinAng impeachment ay hindi biromay nakaraan na tayo sa impeachment, alam natin (It hasn’t been a year since we were elected. Impeachment is no joke, we have a history of impeachment, we know) how divisive it is,” she said.


Sobrang dami na nating problemang inaatupag‘pag nagkaroon ng impeachment laban sa President, sa akinparang maraming trabahong hindi magagawa (There are so many problems needing our attention, if there is an impeachment process against the President, against me, so much work will remain undone),” she added.


But an opposition lawmaker immediately warned Speaker Alvarez he could be ousted and replaced if he will insist on going against President Duterte’s call to stop attempts to impeach Vice President Leni Robredo.

“House members are also not keen on the Speaker’s plan and will not be supporting it. Otherwise if the Speaker will insist on it, he would be facing a mutiny in the House,” said Rep. Tom Villarin (PL, Akbayan).

Villarin said the Speaker “cannot go against his principal and would have to tone down his rhetoric against VP Leni Robredo.”

The biggest threat to Alvarez’ post is Rep. Gloria Arroyo (Lakas-CMD, Pampanga) who was recently stripped by Alvarez of her post as deputy speaker for Central Luzon for voting against the death penalty bill, because of the former president’s closeness to Duterte.

Rep. Rodel Batocabe (PL, Ako Bicol), president of the Party List Coalition (PLC), said the President is doing the right thing because an impeachment “will further polarize our already divided country.”

“The campaign and election period have already passed and it is now the time to heal and galvanize our nation to work for the common good,” he said.

In the Senate, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said Duterte’s allies can push through with their plan to impeach Robredo.

“It’s a free country,” Pimentel said.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, LP president, said he is no longer surprised with Pimentel’s statement “considering there are other forces aligned with the President who see the Vice President as a threat to their own political plans.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, on the other hand, said politics should “take the backseat” among government officials so the impeachment complaint should be shot down.

“Both have been in office for only nine months. Let’s pass laws helpful to Filipino families,” he said.


Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said he will support Speaker Alvarez on his planned impeachment complaint against  Robredo despite President  Duterte's pronouncement to end to any ouster move against the Vice President.


"I am going to support it. Ang alam ko si Speaker ang nagsusulong… Si Presidente (Duterte) naman, personal opinion niya lang yun. But it will be the power, it will be a congressional call not president's call,” Aguirre said.


Aguirre vowed to support the impeachment charges against Robredo based on her video message against President Duterte and his administration sent to the United Nations Commission on Narcotics Drugs, believing they have basis in law.


"Ang ginawa n'ya, pinahiya niya ang Pilipinas so I’m sure na aside from damaging the image of the Philippines, may epekto yan economically," he noted.


The DoJ Secretary said the impeachment against Robredo, a vocal critic of the administration's war on illegal drugs, would succeed if the complainants would be able to establish the violations she was supposed to have committed against the Constitution.


Earlier, Solicitor General Jose Calida said he will support Rep. Alvarez's plan to file an impeachment complaint against Robredo over the latter's video to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs where she criticized the conduct of the administration’s anti-drug campaign.


"I fully understand and support the sentiment of Speaker Bebot Alvarez that VP Robredo should be rightfully condemned for slandering and selling out our country and its leaders before the UN Commission on Narcotics Drugs,” Calida said.


In Quezon City last week, lawyer Bruce Rivera said his group is already laying the groundwork in drafting the impeachment case against the Vice President which could take two to three weeks of case-building.


The group is composed of Rivera, Atty. Tom Berenguer, Atty. Trixie Angeles, Prof. Antonio Contreras, and Interior Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III.


“Leni Robredo has gone too far. We demand accountability. She needs to answer to us now. It is clear that in her determination to further her political stature she is willing to bring the Filipino nation to perdition even at the cost of Filipino integrity and self-determination,” Rivera said.


“We have decided to file for her impeachment. She can no longer be allowed to continue in this manner. Not anymore. Not at our expense,” he added.


Without giving specifics, Rivera said the general grounds for impeachment against Robredo are betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the Constitution, and other high crimes.


Rivera said the group expects to file the impeachment case at the House of Representatives before sessions resume in May.


Although President Duterte has already stated that he will not allow any impeach move against the Vice President, Rivera and his group would still push through with their complaint, stressing that they are not the “President’s minions”.


Angeles also categorically denied they are “agents of the President.”


"We understand the President’s predicament -- he wants the best for the Filipinos. (But) We’re not doing this for the President, but for the Filipino people," Rivera said.


Rivera  denied that this impeachment case against Robredo is in retaliation to the impeachment complaint filed by Magdalo Partylist Rep. Gary Alejano against Duterte.


"Hindi naman kami mga mercenaries o mga gang na bumebwelta or rumeresbak… We are not defending President Duterte in the impeachment case," Rivera said.


"At the end of the day, we have reason in filing (an) impeachment complaint against Robredo," he added.


Robredo said impeachment should be a last recourse.


Ito na lang ba ang remedy na natitira para ma-resolve ang lahat ng problema natin? … Sana hindi ganito kabilissana napag-usapanmedyo nabigla tayo (Is this the only remedy left to resolve all our problems? … I wish it were not this swift, I wish thing were discussed, this caught us by surprise),” she said.


Robredo said she had doubts about the impeachment complaint filed against Duterte by Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano.


Iyong allegations eh noong mayor pa si Pangulobakit iyong allegations eh noong mayor pa siyaPero balita ko may balak pang i-file na supplemental (complaint), siguro titingnan natin (The allegations date back to when the President was still a mayor, why raise allegations from when he was still mayor? But I hear they plan to file a supplemental complaint, maybe, let us see).”


Speaker  Alvarez  said the House of Representatives will stand by its constitutional duty to hear impeachment complaints against high-ranking officials, even as President Duterte called for an end to any ouster moves against Vice President Robredo.


Alvarez said while he respects the position of President Duterte, he said the lower chamber should still do its mandate under the Constitution.


"We respect the President, but we have to do our duty as mandated by the Constitution," Alvarez said.


Alvarez further cited the separation of powers in government in pushing through with the impeachment of Robredo.


"Mayroon po tayong separation of powers at kami po sa House of Representatives ay kinakailangan namin ‘yung kahit anong complaint or impeachment, kailangan namin i-proseso iyan," Alvarez stressed.


This after President Duterte thumbed down the “divisive” impeachment process against Robredo, whom he said was just exercising her freedom of expression in criticizing the administration’s narcotics crackdown.

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