Minority less hopeful on Duterte impeach case
The House of Representatives is expected on Monday to go through the motions of determining whether the impeachment complaint filed against President Duterte meets the required standards, but for it to prosper in a Congress dominated by administration allies is another story.
“I think it will survive the form, but I think the supermajority will try to kill it with respect to substance,” Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman told the Inquirer by phone on Sunday.
Lagman and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, who filed the impeachment complaint, belong to the so-called independent minority bloc.
Before the House kills the impeachment complaint, it should “give Gary Alejano the chance to be heard by the committee and the public,” Lagman said.
“There is the standard recital of facts constituting the offense,” Lagman said, to determine if the complaint is sufficient in substance.
Alejano told the Inquirer in a separate interview that he was prepared to face the House committee on justice even if he felt that his colleagues “intend to kill” the complaint.
“But I continue to hope that they will follow the process,” he said.
Assistant Majority Leader Salvador Belaro Jr. said on Saturday that dismissing the complaint would be the House of Representatives’ gesture of respect for the people’s will.
Mr. Duterte, who received 16.6 million votes in the 2016 elections, has served less than a year of his six-year term.
“We in the majority are here to respect that and that means rejecting the impeachment complaint,” said Belaro, who is also 1-Ang Edukasyon representative.
The House is dominated by Mr. Duterte’s allies after political butterflies shifted alliances to the party now in power, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, and is expected to throw the case against the President away.
A vote of one-third of the 292-member House is needed to automatically send the complaint to the Senate for trial, a tall order for the opposition.
Killings, wealth, China
The impeachment complaint against Mr. Duterte accuses him of being responsible for the killings of thousands of drug suspects and of amassing P2 billion in unexplained wealth.
In a supplemental complaint, Alejano also accused the President of turning his back on his duty to protect Philippine territory from Chinese incursions.
Lagman reiterated that the committee on justice was mandated by the Constitution to conduct “a proper hearing” on an impeachment complaint, and could not just “dismiss or sustain outright” a duly filed complaint.
“The recital of facts, for example, will include that Mr. Duterte espoused the policy of killing,” Alejano said.
He appealed to his fellow lawmakers not to prejudge the impeachment complaint and claim that the President did not commit any crimes against humanity in the war on illegal drugs. —WITH A REPORT FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA
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