Castro clarifies: House leaders not part of impeachment talks vs VP Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro has clarified that the House leadership is not involved in discussing the possibility of filing impeachment complaints against Vice President Sara Duterte, saying it is just a “casual conversation” between lawmakers.
In a briefing on Friday, Castro explained that rumors of impeachment complaints being hurled at Duterte started with a statement last August calling out the Vice President for having confidential funds (CF) in 2022 when it was not included in her office’s original budget.
Castro was referring to a briefing on August 25 by the Makabayan bloc where she said that “regarding impeachment, of course, we will study all possibilities to hold them accountable” as Duterte may have committed “misuse of public funds, technical malversation, and violating the Constitution” when CF was channeled to the Office of the Vice President (OVP).
“Matagal naman na naming ano yan, ‘yung sinasabi nating statement natin dyan nung September and August about dito sa impeachment. As far as Makabayan is concerned, premature pa rin yan at wala naman ding citizen na mag susubmit ng impeachment complaint,” Castro said.
(We said that a long time ago. We made that statement about impeachment around September and August. As far as Makabayan is concerned, this is still premature, and no private citizen has filed an impeachment complaint.)
“Wala din naman siguro, mga tanungan lang yan kung meron na ba. So yung mga ganung informal na usapan sa kongresista, yun yung ilang mga narinig ko dun sa usapan. Pero nothing serious, hindi naman siguro involved dito yung leadership sa impeachment, sa usapin ng impeachment na ito,” she added.
(There are no talks; maybe they only ask questions if a complaint will be filed. These are informal talks between Congress members. That’s what I heard during the talks. But it’s nothing serious; the leadership is not involved with impeachment talks.)
When asked by reporters about her claims that she heard the impeachment talks from party leaders, Castro said it was from other House members. However, she clarified that these informal talks did not result in a more serious move.
“Hindi naman siguro, mga kasama lang din naming yan na mga kongresista na ano, na nag uusap usap diyan. Pero informal din naman yun, kaya hindi naman yun nagiging seryoso. So yun lang, yun lang yung ano natin dun. So hindi naman talaga siya seryosong, mga casual na kwentuhan lang yan,” she said.
(That’s not the case. It’s just our fellow lawmakers who were talking about it. But these are informal discussions. They never prospered or turned serious. That’s just it. It’s not serious, it’s more of a casual discussion.)
“Nothing serious tingin ko naman dun, at wala, wala pa namang congressman or sino man sa amin na nagfi-file nyan o mag eendorse nyan. In the first place wala pa namang citizen eh na nagfi-file,” she added.
(Nothing serious, and no congressman or anyone among us has filed or endorsed that. In the first place, no citizen has filed a complaint.)
Key House members like ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Erwin Tulfo and Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe on Thursday denied claims that leaders of the legislative chamber have started discussions on Duterte’s impeachment. According to Tulfo, the Vice President has not committed impeachable offenses to merit such a move.
“This morning, I reached out to leaders, including Cong. Zaldy [Co] and the Speaker, to address rumors circulating in Congress. However, there is no substance to these discussions; no such thing has been deliberated among party leaders or the House leadership,” Tulfo said.
There were rumors that cracks had started to surface within the Uniteam, or the campaign team of President Ferdinand Marcos and Vice President Duterte, who were running mates in the 2022 national elections.
The rift supposedly widened after the House, under the leadership of Marcos’ cousin Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, removed the proposed CF allocations of OVP and the Department of Education (DepEd) — two agencies under Duterte’s helm.
OVP and DepEd had requested a CF worth P500 million and P150 million, respectively, for 2024. After removing the CF of OVP, DepEd, and other civilian agencies, the House realigned these to offices involved in securing the West Philippine Sea.
After OVP and DepEd’s CF requests were removed, supporters of the Vice President, including no less than her father, former president Rodrigo Duterte, criticized the House.
According to the older Duterte, the House is the most rotten government organization as it supposedly has a pork barrel being distributed to lawmakers. The House has denied this, with Secretary General Reginald Velasco stressing that having pork barrel was already disallowed and that only funds for extraordinary expenses are present.