Robredo makes surprise House visit amid Duterte impeachment talk

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 23 2017 12:55 AM

MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday made a surprise visit to the House of Representatives amid talk of possible impeachment raps against President Rodrigo Duterte.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the House of Representatives initiates impeachment proceedings.

Robredo attended a hearing of the House Committee on People's Participation chaired by Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao. Robredo attended the meeting as a resource speaker for the People Empowerment Bill, which she championed in the 16th Congress.

However, Robredo did not escape questions on the specter of impeaching Duterte, which came after the testimony of retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas earlier this week.

The vice president was asked for her reaction to Senator Leila de Lima's call for the Cabinet to declare Duterte legally incapacitated to hold office. 

"Mahirap kasi mag-comment kasi 'di ko naman narinig si Senator De Lima. Siguro tingnan ko muna kung anong basis ng kaniyang pagkasabi," Robredo said.

(It is difficult to comment since I did not hear what Senator De Lima said. Perhaps, I should look into the basis of her pronouncement.)

When Robredo was asked if Lascañas' revelations may be basis for impeaching the president, Robredo replied, "Depende kasi 'yun sa sasabihin niya. As I've said, di pa naman nag-uumpisa 'yung investigation. I think masabi natin kung pwede siyang maging basis or not kung ongoing na yung investigation."

(It depends on what he will say. As I've said, the investigation has not yet started. I think we would know once the investigation is ongoing.)

When pressed further about Lascañas' statements, Robredo replied, "Parang mahirap magsabi at this point kasi di pa naman nag-uumpisa 'yung imbestigasyon. Pero 'yung imbestigasyon kasi sa Senado mabibigyan tayo ng pagkakataon na ma-observe 'yung kaniyang, di lang yung kaniyang demeanor, pero iyung kanyang statements."

(It's difficult to comment at this point since the investigation has not yet started, The investigation in the Senate will afford us the opportunity not only to observe his demeanor, but also his statements.)

Robredo voiced support for an investigation into Lascañas' revelations. "Narinig ko bits and pieces ng kaniyang press conference sa news lang. Pero natutuwa ako kasi the Senate voted to hear it. Tingin ko makakatulong sa pag-assess natin ng kaniyang credibility, ng credibility ng kwento pag binigyan tayo ng mas maraming pagkakataon to asses it."

(I have only heard bits and pieces of his press conference in the news. I am happy that the Senate voted to hear it. I think it will help us assess his credibility and the credibility of his statements if we are afforded more time to assess it.)

Robredo, meanwhile, said Liberal Party members have yet to meet on their next move regarding the looming arrest of Senator Leila de Lima on charges related to illegal drugs. 

She also revealed that the Liberal Party is taking a party stand against the death penalty, but the party won't sanction members who will vote for its reimposition.

Robredo has no firm plans yet for the 31st anniversary of the 1986 People Power Revolution this weekend. 

"I want to attend pero di ko pa alam. Meron kasi yatang iba-ibang celebrations na sabay-sabay na mangyayari. Actually, I asked my staff kung ano 'yung mga celebrations. I want to attend one of those. Siguro kung may Mass sa EDSA Shrine, I will attend. Wala, walang official invite as of now."

(I want to attend but I do not know yet. There are several celebrations that will simultaneously take place. I want to attend one of those. Maybe if there is a Mass at the EDSA Shrine, I will attend that. But there has been no official invite yet.)

Asked about the rally that will reportedly be led by former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Etta Rosales, Robredo said she does not know of any plans on the 25th aside from the various celebrations to be staged by different organizations.

Robredo was unfazed by the decision of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal to declare the electoral protest of Bongbong Marcos against Robredo sufficient in form and substance. 

"Tayo naman, procedural nire-respeto natin. Iyung desisyon ng PET, ano naman ito, ang gustong sabihin lang nito that the case can now proceed," Robredo explained.

(We respect procedure. The decision of the PET only says that the case can proceed.)

Robredo sidestepped questions on the possibility of Marcos assuming the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) post, which his late husband used to occupy. 

"Merong two schools of thought. Ang two schools of thought 'yung umpisa considered siyang abandonment, 'yung isa naman na school of thought, di siya considered na abandonment kasi appointive na position," Robredo said. 

(There are two schools of thought. First, that it would constitute abandonment. The other school of thought states otherwise since it is merely an appointive position.)

"Wala pa, kasi mahirap kasi para sa akin na mag-comment kasi di ako unbiased na magko-comment. Saka mahirap, we've been cautioned also not to expound so much on the case kaya siguro iiwanan ko na lang yun sa ganiyan," he added.

(I cannot comment because I will not be unbiased, Besides, we have been cautioned not to expound on the case, so I will leave it as it is.)