Updated 13:03 PM PHT Mon, March 20, 2017
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The international anti-drug group that released Vice President Leni Robredo's controversial video denied that the video's release was meant to coincide with the impeachment complaint filed against President Rodrigo Duterte.
DRCNet Foundation executive director David Borden refuted claims by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella that the release of Robredo's video to the annual meeting of the 60th United Nations (U.N.) Commission on Narcotic Drugs was part of a plot by the Vice President to destabilize the Duterte administration.
"I saw in CNN Philippines that the Speaker of the House has threatened to hold an impeachment vote against Vice President Robredo, and the President's office has charged that she timed the release of the video to coincide with an impeachment motion that was filed against Pres. Duterte the next day," Borden said in a statement over the weekend.
"As the organizer of the event at the U.N., I can attest that the date of our forum was scheduled months ago by U.N. staff, and the vice president's office did not make any requests of us as to timing or any other matters," he added.
"We released it a few days before the session as a media strategy to draw attention to Pres. Duterte's atrocities," Borden said.
Robredo alleged in the video released online on March 13 that targets of police anti-drug operations were allegedly beaten if they ask for a search warrant or, worse, have their relatives snatched as collateral in a 'palit-ulo' scheme if they go into hiding.
Robredo's camp said the claims were based on stories of victims who came to the Vice President's office for help.
The Philippine National Police said Wednesday that Robredo should give specific instances of these alleged abuses so that these could be investigated.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Abella said the Vice President "gravely misunderstood" the police's the 'palit-ulo' scheme.
"The Philippine National Police's (PNP) 'palit-ulo' scheme, which the Vice President gravely misunderstood, refers to a commitment of a drug suspect to provide assistance in the arrest of a 'bigger fish' in the illegal drug syndicate, whether an up-line, or superior, or supplier of the arrested suspect, in exchange for lighter charges," Abella explained.
Robredo, a member of the opposition Liberal Party, has been a staunch critic of the Duterte administration since she resigned last December from his cabinet as housing secretary.