Updated 10:41 AM PHT Sat, March 18, 2017
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Vice President Leni Robredo may soon face an impeachment complaint.
In a CNN Philippines exclusive, House Speaker Pantaleon "Bebot" Alvarez said on Friday, he is studying the possibility of filing an impeachment complaint against Robredo.
"Pinagaaralan ko pa rin... Kung sa aking pag-aaral ay meron akong sapat na ebidensiya para i-prosecute 'yan, we have to see if it can stand trial sa Senado," Alvarez said.
[Translation: I am studying it. If in my research, I can find sufficient evidence to prosecute, we have to see if it can stand trial before the Senate.]
Robredo recently sent a video to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs criticizing the government's anti-drug campaign.
Alvarez believes, Robredo's pronouncements before an international audience betrayed public trust. This is an impeachable offense under the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
"Ang pananaw ko dito mayroong betrayal of public trust... Sa buong buhay ko, ngayon lang ako nakakita ng isang mataas na opisyal ng gobyerno na walang pakundangan siraan ang ating bansa sa international community... Ano ang magiging epekto noon economically?" he said.
[Translation: In my opinion, there is a betrayal of trust. In my entire life, this is the first time I have seen a top government official smear the country's reputation before the international community. What would be the effect, economically?]
Robredo has been a vocal critic of Duterte's war on drugs and the allegedly state-sponsored extrajudicial killings in the country.
'No betrayal of public trust'
The Office of the Vice President said the impending filing of impeachment raps against Robredo was "purely baseless."
"And what we are hearing so far, is that these are purely threats. These are actually irresponsible statements coming from the Speaker of the House without actually having thought through the legality of this matter," Robredo's spokesperson, Georgina Hernandez told CNN Philippines late Friday.
If the charges would be based only on Robredo's message to the UN, then this could not be considered as betrayal of public trust, Hernandez said.
"The Vice President did not in any way mean to paint a negative picture of our country. In fact, she was just simply echoing what the Filipino people, what the Filipinos families shared to her given their fear after all of what's happening in the country," Hernandez added.
In her video to the UN, Robredo said targets of police anti-drug operations are beaten if they ask for a search warrant or, worse, have their relatives snatched as collateral if they go into hiding. These were relayed to her by the victims themselves, who refuse to comment in public for fear for their lives, Hernandez said.
Robredo behind Duterte impeach raps?
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the international release of Robredo's video and the filing of the impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte — which both happened on Thursday — seems too perfectly aligned to be considered a coincidence.
"If it is not her personal intent, she may have played into the hands of those who wish to use her as a political animal. Either way it is a pathetic state of affairs for her," he said.
But the OVP said Robredo was unaware of any impeachment plans against the President.
"The video message and the impeachment are two separate things and we should keep it that way," Hernandez said.
Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano filed the first impeachment complaint against Duterte based on the following grounds:
- Culpable violation of the Constitution
- Engaging in bribery
- Betrayal of public trust
- Graft and corruption
- Other high crimes
The impeachment complaint is based on allegations of illegal acts supposedly committed by Duterte both as President and as then mayor of Davao City.
Alejano said Duterte is "not fit to serve as President" and "should be held liable for the crimes he committed."
As for House Speaker Alvarez, he believes Robredo is behind the impeachment complaint against the President.
"Sa tingin ko nagmamadali ito upang siya ay maluklok sa diyan sa pwesto ni Pangulong Duterte dahil mukhang natatakot siya na pagbibigyan ang petisyon na bilangin ang mga balota noong nakaraang eleksyon," he said.
[Translation: I think she is rushing to take the place of President Duterte because she is scared the petition to recount ballots from the last election will be granted.]
President Duterte has said he does not think Robredo is behind the supposed destabilization plot against him.
CNN Philippines correspondent Joyce Ilas, senior digital producers Lara Tan and Eimor Santos contributed to this report.