VP to minority: Don’t let supermajority discourage impeachment
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte feels confident an impeachment complaint against him will not prosper because he has a so-called supermajority in Congress, according to Vice President Leni Robredo.
It should not, however, deter anyone, even officials in the minority, from filing such a complaint, Robredo said during her weekly radio program, “BISErbisyong Leni,” which airs over AM station DZXL.
Co-host Ely Saludar noted that the President had threatened to order the arrest of anyone who files an impeachment complaint against him.
The President made the comment last Thursday, June 27, after several lawmakers and former government officials said that he could be impeached for his move to allow Chinese fishermen to fish in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“I-impeach ako? Kulungin ko silang lahat. Subukan niyo. Try to take it, do it, and I will do it,” Duterte told reporters in Malacañang last June 27.
[Impeach me? I will jail you all. Just try. Try to take it, do it, and I will do it.]
“So labag sa ating batas iyong mag-file ng impeachment case?” Saludar asked Robredo during their Sunday program.
[So is it against the law to file an impeachment case?]
“Iyong impeachment case kasi, Ka Ely, political act iyan,” Robredo said. “May grounds para ma-impeach ang mga impeachable officials. Pero ang reyalidad noon, political act siya at tingin ko kaya malakas ang loob kasi may supermajority sa Congress. So baka iniisip na — iniisip na kahit anong gawin, puwede dahil kakampihan ng mga kakampi. Ito ang nakakalungkot.”
[An impeachment case is a political act, Ely. There are grounds to impeach impeachable officials. But the reality is that it’s a political act. And I think he’s confident because there’s a supermajority in Congress. So maybe he’s thinking that he can do whatever he wants because his allies will side with him. This is what’s sad.]
But that reality, she added, should not be an excuse for people, even public officials in the minority, to refrain from fighting for what is right.
“Ito ang nakakalungkot kasi kahit sana political act, iyong panakot dapat sa mga impeachable officials na kapag nag-violate, ang essence ng pinaka-violation at saka iyong essence ng Saligang Batas ang magpe-prevail,” Robredo said. “Pero alam natin sa experience hindi iyon ganoon. Sa experience na lang… parang mas nagpe-prevail ang pulitika kaysa sa iba pang mga consideration.”
[This is what’ saddening because, even if it’s a political act, the deterrent against impeachable officials who violate the Constitution should prevail. But we know from experience that it doesn’t happen that way. Judging by experience, politics prevails over all other considerations.]
“Pero tingin ko hindi naman iyon dahilan para… Kahit minority kayo, ipaglaban ang tama pa din. Kahit napaka-kaunti ng numero, ang pinakamahalaga doon, hindi ka napapagod ipaglaban ang tama,” Robredo added.
[But I think that should not be an excuse. Even if you’re in the minority, you should still fight for what’s right. Even if your numbers are small, what’s important is you don’t get tired of fighting for what’s right.]
The Vice President then called on the public to keep putting pressure on public officials.
“Nasa kamay din ng taumbayan na. Iyong mga senador kasi at mga kongresista representatives lang natin sila. Dapat tayo ang naglalagay ng pressure sa kanila na… para maging tunay na kinatawan ng ating mga paniniwala,” Robredo said.
[It’s really in the hands of the people. The senators and House members are just their representatives. We should be the ones putting pressure on them, so that they would really represent our beliefs.]
“Ang sa akin naman, iyon ang dapat pinapaalalahanan na ang kapangyarihan nasa kamay ng ordinaryong mamamayan. Na kung ang kaniyang kinatawan ay hindi na ginagawa ang obligasyon na dapat niyang gawin, nasa kamay pa rin ng ordinaryong mamamayan na may gawin siya. Pero kung pinabayaan lang natin at hinahayaan natin na parang lapastanganin ang kapangyarihan na binigay sa kanila, tayo din ang magsasakripisyo talaga sa huli,” she added.
[For me, they should be reminded that power is in the hands of ordinary citizens — that if their representatives are not doing what they should do, then it’s in the hands of ordinary citizens to do something. But if you just allow them to abuse the power given to them, it will be us who would sacrifice in the end.]
(Editor: Alexander T. Magno)
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