MANILA - "The institutions, including the Congress, is unwilling and unable to prosecute the President."
So said Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano on Monday after the House of Representatives junked his impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte in its first hearing.
The House justice committee declared the complaint insufficient in substance because Alejano supposedly presented mere hearsay in accusing Duterte of supporting summary executions of drug suspects, operating a death squad in Davao City and having a "defeatist" approach towards Beijing's assertiveness in the South China Sea.
Alejano however said the panel did not even give him a chance to support his allegations.
"Hindi nga ako makapagsalita, ako ang nagrereklamo, hindi ako makasalita. If the committee is liberal, then they would have allowed me to explain. Isa lang naman akong complainant e, they would have had all the time," he said in a press conference.
The panel's decision to declare the complaint insufficient in substance came a few hours into proceedings that focused heavily on Alejano's admission that he had not personally witnessed the drugs-related killings that he was accusing Duterte of sponsoring.
Alejano however said the committee made a decision based purely on Duterte's popularity and would be responsible for a dictatorship taking shape.
"I assure you if we allow the president that kind of power in violation of the Constitution ... If we allow it further, it will be a dictatorship," he said.
"We are sending the message to the president, 'yes, you continue, we will allow you'."
But in August, Duterte declared he had no plans to be a dictator.
House justice panel chairperson Reynaldo Umali defended the early rejection of the complaint, saying Alejano's "frivolous" complaint only cited unauthenticated documents.
"Paano ka magpo-proceed kung walang pinagbabasehan ang complaint?" he added.
Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the junking of the complaint was expected because it was built on falsehoods and intended only to "besmirch the reputation" of Duterte.
Some political commentators however said Alejano's impeachment effort had an ulterior motive: to strengthen a complaint filed by a lawyer last month with the International Criminal Court accusing Duterte of crimes against humanity.
Among the ICC's jurisdictional requirements is that domestic legal avenues to try an individual are first exhausted.
Alejano said he might now convince his allies to put their weight behind the ICC case, because there were no Philippine institutions able to hold Duterte to account.
"Where will we go, where do we file our complaint?" he said. "We have nowhere to go to." -- With Reuters