Updated 00:51 AM PHT Tue, March 21, 2017
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — It will be easier to impeach Vice President Leni Robredo than President Rodrigo Duterte, according to House Justice Committee chair Rey Umali and Senate President Koko Pimentel on Monday.
Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano filed the impeachment complaint against Duterte last Thursday over alleged killings when he was still Davao City mayor and corruption as President.
After this, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a staunch ally of Duterte in the Lower House, threatened to file an impeachment case against Robredo for betraying public trust after she came out with a video criticizing Duterte's drug war before the international community.
Impeachment of a public official requires the approval of only at least one-third of the members of the lower chamber, translating to 98 of the current 292 congressmen.
Both the Duterte and Alvarez currently enjoy the support of the House supermajority with 266 members.
"Siyempre, kapag nag-botohan at hindi nakakuha ng boto iyong (Of course, if the members do not vote for the) complaint against the President, then it will die a natural death," said Umali. "On the other hand…it will be easier to get the numbers to pursue an impeachment complaint against the Vice President."
Meanwhile, Pimentel admitted he was yet to see Robredo's video message, though he said "theoretically" it could be tantamount to betrayal of public trust, which could be a political ground for her impeachment. Pimentel also noted that impeachment was a numbers game -- and the supermajority had more than enough solons to back up -- or junk -- an impeachment rap.
However, Senate minority leader Ralph Recto, Robredo's co-member at the Liberal Party, disagreed with Umali and Pimentel.
"Wala akong nakikitang (I don't see any) betrayal of public trust as far as the video message is concerned…It is part of democracy to criticize the government policy," he said.
Meanwhile, Alejano said some congressmen already called him to express support for the President's impeachment case, but refused to divulge their identities.
He added some of those who called him were from the majority bloc.
Kabayan party-list Representative Harry Roque, however, believes only a few lawmakers will support the impeachment complaint against Duterte.
He explained, while 54 congressmen voted against the President's program of reviving the death penalty bill, it did not follow that they would also vote in favor of the impeachment complaint.
"Sigurado po ako, karamihan ng nagboto ng 'no' sa death penalty ay dahil sa kanilang konsensya, wala pong kinalaman iyan kay Presidente Duterte," Roque said. "Ang estimate ko, hindi po lalagpas sa 10 ang susuporta diyan sa impachment."
[Translation: I am sure most of those who voted 'no' on the death penalty bill are due to their conscience, and has nothing to do with President Duterte. In my estimate, those who will support his impeachment will not be more than 10.]
Roque also called on Alejano to withdraw his impeachment complaint against the President, but urged Alvarez to push through with his case against Robredo.
The House of Representatives is expected to take up the impeachment complaint against Duterte when session resumes in May.
CNN Philippines' correspondent Cecille Lardizabal contributed to this report.