Robredo critics get into heated exchange with reporters over impeach rap

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 24) — Reporters engaged in a verbal brawl with supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte, as the group prepared to file an impeachment complaint against Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday.

Tensions rose when DWIZ radio reporter Jill Resontoc asked the group who is funding the case build-up for Robredo's impeachment.

Lawyer Bruce Rivera, the group's spokesperson, said they are not financially supported by anyone but themselves. He said they are composed of professionals, "who can afford a little bit of comfort and luxuries."

Resontoc followed up on his question, "So wala po kayong principal? Sabi niyo po kanina supporter kayo ni Duterte e (So you do not have a principal? You said you are supporters of Duterte)."

Rivera said being Duterte supporters does not automatically make the President their backer in the planned filing of an impeachment rap. 

"Hindi po totoo yan. Parang pang LP (Liberal Party) yata iyang dialogue na 'yan (That's not true. That seems like a dialogue from LP)," Rivera quipped. Robredo belongs to the Liberal Party.

This elicited laughter and cheers from the audience, which was composed mostly of Duterte supporters.

But Manila Bulletin's veteran reporter Ben Rosario took offense and called out Rivera for his statement.

He reminded the group that Resontoc and the other reporters were just asking as journalists.

"Nagtatanong, nilalagyan ng malisya ([We are] asking, [but you are] putting malice on it)," Rosario said.

"Malinis yung tanong ko, walang motive tsaka walang agenda (My question is clean, I have no other motive or agenda)," Resontoc said.

Rivera quickly clarified that he did not mean to allude to the media.

Actress Vivian Velez, however, loudly shot back at Rosario: "Malinis din ang sagot namin (Our answers have clean intentions too)."

Velez, also a known Duterte supporter, was covering the press conference through Facebook Live.  

Some members of the audience also started shouting, jeering Rosario, while another chanted, "Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!"

Interior and Local Government Assistant Secrertary Epimaco Densing III, who was part of the group against Robredo, asked some uninvited non-media guests to leave the gathering.

One of the group's lawyers, Trixie Cruz-Angeles, tried to pacify the situation.

Both sides calmed down after a nearly two-minute verbal tussle.

Lawyer Tom Berenguer categorically cleared Duterte of any involvement in the group's efforts to oust the Vice President.

Political Science Professor Antonio Contreras kept silent during the heated argument.

Densing first told CNN Philippines on Saturday, that a group of "topnotch" lawyers had started a case build-up for Robredo's possible impeachment. Densing on Thursday presented lawyers Rivera, Angeles, Berenguer and Professor Contreras as members of the team.

The group said they have no other name for themselves yet, other than the "Impeach VP Leni Team."

They hope to file an impeachment complaint against Robredo when the House of Representatives resumes session in May.

WATCH: Group of lawyers to file impeachment case vs. Robredo

Duterte earlier called for an end to threats to impeach Robredo but the group said although they are Duterte supporters, they cannot turn a blind eye if they see Robredo fit to be impeached.

CNN Philippines' Joyce Ilas and Eimor P. Santos contributed to this report.