Alvarez opposes Duterte on stopping Robredo impeachment

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 23) - House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he disagrees with President Rodrigo Duterte's call to stop impeachment proceedings against Vice President Leni Robredo.

"We may agree with him d'un sa maraming issues po [on many issues]. But this time we disagree with him. Dahil po [Because] we are a separate branch of government and we are mandated by the Constitution to process all impeachment complaints," said Alvarez in an interview with CNN Philippines' Balitaan Thursday.

 

Duterte mentioned upon arrival from his official visit to Myanmar and Thailand that lawmakers should lay off Robredo because she is still an elected official.

"Elected 'yung tao eh [She was elected], so why do you have to…is it just because she keeps on harping at me? Hayaan mo [Just let her], this is democracy -- freedom of speech," Duterte said.

While the House Speaker said that he respects the President's request, he maintains that Congress has exclusive jurisdiction over the complaints filed.

"We have to process all impeachment complaints na finile po dito sa mga [which were filed against] impeachable officials," Alvarez said.

One impeachment complaint is up for endorsement Monday--it was filed by Marcos supporters Atty. Oliver Lozano and Melchor Chavez. In their complaint, they mention that the data presented in Robredo's controversial video came from the "yellow Cult".

Read more: Marcos loyalists ask House to endorse impeachment rap vs. Robredo

Alvarez said that he has not yet seen the drafted complaint as sessions are on break.

Another group of volunteer lawyers and professionals plan to file a complaint this May,  once sessions resume.

Read more: Lawyers to pursue impeach rap vs. Robredo despite Duterte's opposition

Alvarez previously said that Robredo's video commentary on Duterte's war on drugs--which was presented at the sidelines of a meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs--may be grounds for impeachment, as it betrayed public trust.

The House Speaker added that all impeachment complaints filed will follow due process as mandated by law.

Impeachment vs. Duterte

The President is also facing an impeachment rap filed by Magdalo party-list representative Gary Alejano, on the grounds of corruption and his alleged connection to the extrajudicial killings.

Alvarez said Alejano is entitled to gather support for his impeachment complaint against Mr. Duterte.

The House Speaker however pointed out, Alejano's complaint should have "strong enough substance" for it to stand a chance.

But with a supermajority of congressmen backing the President, would Alejano's complaint really get a fair chance? The House Speaker said it would.

"Hindi lang po laro ng numero Ma'am, dahil ayaw po naming na magmukha kaming gago d'un sa impeachment court," Alvarez said.

[Translation: It's not just a number's game, because we don't want to look foolish in front of the impeachment court.]

Read more: Timing is everything: Duterte impeachment proponent to lobby Congress colleagues

Alejano added that he is looking into a supplemental complaint, in relation to the President's foreign policy, in relation to the West Philippine Sea.

Alejano accuses Duterte of being subservient to China.

Read more: Magdalo Party List eyes complaint vs. Duterte on Scarborough Shoal

Alvarez said the House Committee on Justice will assess Alejano's complaint based on “form and substance”.