MANILA — (UPDATED) A lawyer associated with former President Ferdinand Marcos on Monday filed an impeachment complaint against Vice President Leni Robredo for her criticism of the administration's bloody war on drugs.
The complaint for violation of the constitution and betrayal of public trust was sent by Oliver Lozano to the office of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a staunch ally of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Alvarez earlier said he was mulling whether to file a complaint himself.
"She is the termite of the government," Lozano said in a letter seeking endorsement of his six-page complaint.
In their letter to Alvarez, Lozano and another Marcos supporter, Melchor Chavez, said Robredo “committed acts of injustice” when she spread “fake news” about the Philippines to the world when she sent a video to a side event of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting (CND) last week, criticizing the government’s war on drugs.
“She betrayed the people by shaming the nation with her dishonest message to the United Nations,” the letter reads.
“The respondent is duty bound to act within the framework of the Constitution but her acts of dishonesty and moral bankruptcy breached the bounds of the Fundamental Law.”
In the video, Robredo decried the killings linked to the war on drugs and also revealed a so-called “palit-ulo” scheme wherein authorities would supposedly take a family member instead in case the original person on the drug list could not be found.
Alvarez said this was "irresponsible."
"This is the first time a high government official has sent a video clip maligning our country," he said in a radio interview on Monday.
"But Robredo doesn't present any iota of evidence for her claims, not even a single instance of the human rights violations she alleges, not even newspaper reports on these; nor does she refer to any report detailing her accusations,” Lozano and Chavez’s letter to Alvarez reads.
"It gets worse though. Robredo in her message to the UN made it appear that the rule of law in our country has so totally broken down that victims of human rights violations are given no recourse.”
COMPLAINT AGAINST ROBREDO 'BASELESS"
Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Romero "Miro" Quimbo said the House of Representatives should not spend time on the complaint filed by Lozano.
"The House of Representatives should not spend a single second on this baseless complaint. It's a mere scrap of paper that is supported not by any evidence, but by mere erroneous conclusions of law," he said in a statement.
"Congress will only end up wasting time better spent on much needed legislation including those on tax reform, traffic crisis act, as well as those that seek to make economic gains more inclusive," Quimbo added.
For Quimbo, congressmen should not allow "recidivist impeachers" to drag the Congress "into their petty political charades."
"Ginagawa nilang dalawa singko ang impeachment. It's a travesty to our political institutions if we are to allow these people to cheapen this process," he said.
'TRUTH-TELLING NOT AN IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE'
Robredo's lawyer, Barry Gutierrez, is confident the vice president has done nothing wrong. "Truth-telling can never be an impeachable offense," he told reporters.
Lozano's complaint was submitted four days after lower house representative Gary Alejano filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte, accusing him of offenses ranging from conflict of interest and assets concealment to extrajudicial killings.
The complaints against Robredo and Duterte will not be handled by Congress until May at the earliest, as the legislature is in recess.
Congress is dominated by lawmakers who are allied with the president. Robredo's Liberal Party is in the minority.
Duterte has denied wrongdoing, and his allies say the impeachment motion against him would be soundly defeated.
A one-third vote in the 292-member lower house would impeach either executive official and pave the way for a Senate trial in which a two-thirds majority would be needed to remove the impeached official.
Duterte on Sunday welcomed the impeachment complaint, as well as the prospect of the International Criminal Court putting him on trial over his war on drugs, saying his campaign would be unrelenting and "brutal" and he would not be intimidated into ending it.
Robredo defeated by a slim margin the late dictator's son, former Senator Ferdinand Marcos, in the 2016 vice-presidential race.
Marcos' camp has been urging the Supreme Court, which sits as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to swiftly act on his electoral protest against Robredo. - with Reuters