Filing an impeachment charge is not a crime – CHR
MANILA, Philippines —Amid threats of arrest against those who will file an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Tuesday underscored that filing an impeachment charge is not a crime.
Citing the 1987 Constitution, CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia said impeachment is a means to remove a government official from power should they commit impeachable offenses.
“Authorities of government officials are not absolute. They enjoy powers only as much as the Constitution and other pertinent laws allow. And when violations arise, the Constitution grants impeachment as a legal means to remove an official from power,” De Guia said in a statement.
“It is a right guaranteed to the people, from whom sovereignty resides and where all government authority emanates from,” De Guia added.
Duterte earlier threatened to jail those who would file an impeachment case against him after several lawmakers and former government officials said that he could be impeached for forging an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping that allows Chinese fishermen to trawl within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Oscar Albayalde on Monday said they will arrest those who will file impeachment cases against Duterte if the Chief Executive will order them to do so and if there is indeed a violation of the law.
“Of course, kung talagang pinag-utos ng Presidente at may nakita tayong violation of the law, why not?” Albayalde said in a press conference in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
De Guia, however, said that no one should be arrested for asserting their rights.
“As such, no one should be arrested for merely asserting a Constitutional right nor should they be targeted for doing such. Filing an impeachment charge is not a crime,” De Guia pointed out.
“We remind the government, including the Philippine National Police, that they draw their mandate from the people. Obedience must always be premised on a lawful order, lest we disregard the rule of law, which they too vowed to respect and protect,” she added.
The CHR spokesperson also stressed that the 1987 Constitution states that “public office is a public trust.”
“The call for everyone is guard democracy against possible abuses that will piece through laws that seek to guard our rights and dignity,” De Guia said. (Editor: Katherine G. Adraneda)
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