Impeachment filed vs Duterte in House over drug war

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 16 2017 10:12 AM | Updated as of Mar 16 2017 03:52 PM

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

MANILA - (UPDATE) A party-list lawmaker filed on Thursday an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte over killings linked to his war on drugs and allegations he kept secret bank accounts.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano accused the President of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption, bribery and other high crimes.

"Kami po ay naniniwala na si Pangulong Duterte ay 'di nararapat na manungkulan bilang pinakamataas na opisyal ng ating bansa. Kaya po kami naghain ng impeachment complaint sa kadahilanang ito," Alejano said.

(We believe President Duterte is unfit to lead as the highest official of the nation. That is why we filed this impeachment complaint.)

Alejano is an ally of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, one of Duterte's most vocal critics in the Senate. The two were accused of leading several attempts to oust former president Gloria Arroyo when they were still with the military.

The complaint also includes questions by the Commission on Audit over the hiring of 11,000 "ghost" employees in Davao City.

“Ang pinakamalaga dito yung state policy of killing of drug offenders. Yung pagpatay ng kapwa Pilipino ay hindi man lang dumaan sa proseso,” Alejano said.

(The most important thing here is the state policy of killing of drug suspects. The killing of fellow Filipinos were done without due process.)

“Mahigit na ho 8,000 ang namatay ngayon. Nakakabahala ito, huwag na natin hintayin na maging 20,000, 30,000, 50,000 ang mamamatay upang tayo ay tumayo at lumaban,” he said.

(More than 8,000 have died. This is disturbing. We should not wait for the deaths to reach 20,000, 30,000, 50,000 before we stand up and fight.)

Alejano also cited the 1,400 deaths allegedly at the hands of a “death squad” in Davao City, when Duterte was mayor.

“Naniniwala kami na kahit sino ka man sa bansang ito, sa Pilipinas, dapat mananagot ang gumawa ng krimen at paglabag ng saligang batas,” Alejano said.

(We believe that whoever you are in this country. You should be held accountable for your crimes and for violating the constitution.)

Alejano said he was studying whether to include in the complaint allegations Duterte had secret dealing with China after Chinese survey ships were found in the Benham Rise area off the Philippines' Pacific coast.

The lawmaker said he was confident the complaint would muster enough support, despite the House of Representatives being dominated by the President's allies.

The upcoming recess, which will start this week, will give congressmen time to consider their position on the complaint, he said.

"Batid namin na kung ang laban ay bilang lamang, kami po ay nahaharap sa napakabigat na balakid. Ganunpaman, naniniwala kami na ang impeachment ay ilalaban hindi lamang sa loob ng Kongreso kundi pati rin sa labas ng Kongreso," he said.

(We concede that in a numbers game, we face a huge stumbling block. However, we believe that impeachment will not be fought in Congress alone, but outside Congress as well.)

The House leadership needs to transmit the complaint before the justice committee, which will determine if it is sufficient in form and substance.

If approved by the House, the complaint will be heard by the Senate, which will convene as an impeachment court. A two-thirds vote of the Senate tribunal is needed to convict an impeached official.

Former President Joseph Estrada was the last chief executive to be impeached by Congress, following corruption allegations in 2000. His trial was cut short by a military-backed popular uprising the following year that led to his ouster.

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona was impeached for allegedly hiding his assets and was found guilty by the Senate impeachment court in 2012.