|President Rodrigo Duterte|
On March 16, Philippines Lower House Representative Rep. Gary Alejano filed the first impeachment complaints against President Rodrigo Duterte, accusing him of committing several criminal acts while he was mayor of Davao City.
Duterte’s administration dismissed Alejano’s allegations of corruption, graft and ordering summary executions and thousands of killings thought to be related to the wars against drugs he pursues so enthusiastically.
Alejano, an ex-Marine who was part of the 2003 failed putsch against then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, lodged his complaint less than a year after Duterte took office.
He told reporters, "The President should be impeached due to culpable violation of the Constitution, bribery, betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption and other high crimes … We are scared, but we can’t let this prevail over our mandate to serve the people," according to the Manila Post.
The Magdalo Party member accused the sitting head of state of failing to report up to 2.2 billion pesos of personal wealth and hiring 11 "ghost" employees during his mayorship. Alejano says Duterte greenlit the deaths of 7,000 people suspected of drug activity and the execution of 1,400 people at the hands of the Davao Death Squad, an organization whose existence the president denies.
Since the complaint has been verified by Alejano’s endorsement, it must now be included in the House of Representatives order of business within 10 session days before being sent to the appropriate committee within three session days after that.
The largely Catholic nation’s Congress is currently on break for Lent, so Alejano’s complaint won’t be heard until May 7.
Opposition lawmakers do not have the numbers necessary to impeach the president, but Alejano said that Duterte’s "excesses and crimes" must be brought to light and that public pressure must be brought for impeachment. "We understand that in terms of numbers we face an uphill battle … But precisely, the battle for impeachment must be fought both inside and outside the halls of Congress," he said, according to ABC.
Not all lawmakers are in support of Duterte’s removal, with House Appropriation Panel Chairman Rep. Karlo Nograles saying, "It does not have any proper grounds to merit an impeachment because it is based solely on conjectures, supposition, hearsay and wild imagination. Their allegations are baseless and have no evidence. They said it themselves that this is an uphill battle. By conceding the fight immediately even before the first shot is fired, clearly they know they have nothing against the president."
Nograles called the complaint a "shotgun approach," saying that the complaint’s supporters "are pushing their luck."
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, one of the president’s legal lieutenants, maintains that Duterte has committed no acts worthy of impeachment, stating that “The impeachment complaint has no factual and legal basis. The allegations in the complaint are not anchored on concrete or solid evidence that would support findings of any of the enumerated grounds for impeachment. Mere allegations without proof are not evidence."
Solicitor General Jose Calida belittled the complaints, saying its supporters "must be dreaming … They are not even in the league of Don Quixote. Impeachment won’t fly. It will crash like a rudderless plane flown by witless pilots."
In a statement, Senator Panfilo Lacson remarked "All I can say is, without necessarily associating myself with them in the matter of impeaching [Duterte], my simple message is good luck to them," according to ABS CBN News.
This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.