Updated 01:46 AM PHT Fri, March 17, 2017
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — An impeachment rap filed Thursday against President Rodrigo Duterte was met with derision by lawmakers and government officials supportive of the administration.
This followed the filing by Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano of the impeachment complaint at the House of Representatives.
Alejano cited violation of the Constitution, bribery, betrayal of public trust, as well as graft and corruption, as the grounds for the impeachment of Duterte.
Solicitor General Jose Calida and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez mocked the impeachment rap.
"They must be dreaming. They are not even in the league of Don Quixote. Impeachment won't fly. It will crash like a rudderless plane flown by witless pilots," Calida said, referring to the main character of an eponymous 17th century Spanish novel about a delusional knight.
The solicitor-general also referred to Alejano as a "toady" of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a vocal Duterte critic who has accused the President of hidden wealth and claims of human rights violations.
Alvarez said, "We are all entitled to our own stupidity," and added the complaint will not prosper.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the filing of the impeachment complaint looks like a part of a "larger scheme of things."
"(I)t just seems rather dramatic that everything seems to be so coordinated at this stage. With acts of trying … to discredit the administration and trying to throw it in doubt," Abella said in a press briefing.
He also denied all the allegations cited in the complaint.
"(N)o treason, betrayal of trust, bribery, graft and corruption, high crime and culpable violation of the Constitution has been committed. We reiterated that the so-called extrajudicial (killings) are not state-sponsored and the President has made sure that he will not turn a blind eye to all uniformed personnel who violate and abuse their power," he added.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said the complaints lack factual and legal basis.
"The allegations in the complaint are not anchored in concrete solid evidence that would support findings of any enumerated grounds for impeachment. Mere allegations without proof are not evidence," Aguirre said.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo slammed the impeachment rap as "black propaganda."
"Intended as a black propaganda against PRRD to besmirch his reputation. Like other groundless and malicious accusations against the President on his integrity, the impeachment complaint will not fly, nor will it make a dent on the overwhelming popularity of PRRD," Panelo said.
He added that this will not stop Duterte's goal of resolving the country's problems.
"Such filing will not deter his resolve to continue vigorously his war against the illegal drug trade, criminality and corruption as well as to bring economic prosperity to the country by demolishing the obstacles that shackle it," Panelo said.
Key congress officials in the senate and lower house's majority bloc pointed out the huge support the President enjoyed in the May 2016 elections.
"Iba ang sitwasyon noong nanguna ang Magdalo sa ouster plot laban kay GMA sa sitwasyon ngayon (Magdalo's ouster plot against GMA was different). GMA's legitimacy was in question then, while President Duterte was given the mandate by the Filipino people. No compelling reason to file an impeachment complaint against the President at this time," Senator JV Ejercito of the majority bloc said.
Before their election to congress, Alejano and Trillanes both participated in the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, a failed attempt at unseating former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who assumed the presidency when Joseph Estrada was impeached as President in 2001.
House Majority leader Rodolfo Farinas pointed out that the impeachment rap referred to claims such as the alleged vigilante group Davao Death Squad which was pinned on Duterte when he was still Davao City mayor.
"An official is impeached for acts committed in his present office. Since the allegations made while he was mayor were widely publicized and known by the voters when they elected him as President, the clear mandate given to him by the people has to be respected," Farinas said.
Other lawmakers said the filing of the impeachment complaint is part of the democratic process.
"It is the constitutional way of booting out a sitting president, so Magdalo party list should not be criticized much less mocked for filing the impeachment complaint," said Senator Panfilo Lacson.
"At least this time they are not engaging in another Oakwood type of adventure. My simple message is, good luck to them," Lacson added.
Senators in the minority bloc concurred, saying the impeachment complaint was a legal recourse.
"Any citizen has the right to file a petition if they believe they have a valid case against any impeachable public official." said Senator Risa Hontiveros.
For Senator Kiko Pangilinan, the constitutional process must be respected.
"We swore an oath to uphold and defend the constitution and as such we must respect our constitutional processes whether we agree with it or not, whether we like the outcome or not," Pangilinan said.
Trillanes IV, a member of Magdalo Party List, supports this.
Senator Francis Escudero declined comment, citing "inter-chamber courtesy."
"(I) can't comment as it may constitute pre-judgement in case it reaches the Senate. That is the prerogative of every Congressman and rests within the sole jurisdiction and discretion of the House of Representatives," he said.