Duterte on Robredo impeachment: Stop it

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday he does not support the impeachment complaint filed against Vice President Leni Robredo.

 

"Look, we just had an election. Guys, lay off. Stop it. You can do other things but do not tinker with the structure of government. I will not countenance it," Duterte said in a press briefing, upon arriving from his official visit to Myanmar and Thailand.

Marcos loyalists Atty. Oliver Lozano and Melchor Chavez filed a draft impeachment complaint against Robredo on Monday at the House of Representatives, calling her "the termite of Government."

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

They said the Vice President's video shown at the 60th annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs constitutes a culpable violation of the Constitution and a betrayal of public trust, which are both impeachable offenses under the constitution.

Read: Robredo: Warrantless searches, 'palit-ulo' scheme in anti-drug operations

"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.

Robredo, a human rights lawyer and a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, alleged in the video, among others, that targets of the police in anti-drug operations are beaten up if they ask for a search warrant.

While Duterte admitted he is not up to speed with Robredo's impeachment case, he defended her position as an elected official, as he reiterated, "this is a democracy, leaders are elected."

The President himself is facing an impeachment complaint filed by Magdalo party-list representative Gary Alejano over violation of the Constitution, bribery, betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption, and other high crimes.

Read: Duterte faces impeachment complaint over alleged killings, corruption

Robredo not after presidency

For her part, Robredo reiterated that she is not aspiring to become President.

"Ang ating pagpapahayag ng pagkontra sa mga polisiya ng gobyerno, hindi nangangahulugang gusto nating agawin ang posisyon. Wala tayong gano'ng pangarap," Robredo said Thursday in remarks to urban poor leaders who visited her office.

[Translation: Expressing our objection to government's policies does not mean we want to take over the Presidency. We have no such dream.]

Robredo's remarks came a few days after Duterte accused her of being in a hurry to become president, which is what his enemies supposedly want.

"Mga kalaban ko… Si Leni, aporado masyado maging Presidente," he said in a speech on March 19.

[Translation: Among my rivals, Leni is in such a rush to become President]

CNN Philippines' Digital Producer VJ Bacungan contributed to this report.

[Story updated March 23, 3:30 p.m. to include statement of Vice President Leni Robredo.]