MANILA, Philippines — The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo raised doubts about the impartiality of a possible impeachment process after a complaint was filed Wednesday at the House of Representatives.
Barry Gutierrez, legal counsel of the vice president, on Monday said that House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a close ally of Duterte, is himself eager to push for Robredo’s impeachment when he is also expected to examine evidence objectively.
“Our concern here is how can we expect a fair process in the House when the leader of the House itself who presides over a 266 person majority, is already weighing in and saying that that is his position,” he said.
Alvarez last week announced that he is considering filing an ouster complaint against the vice president for “betrayal on public trust” in sending a video message to a United Nations forum criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
For Gutierrez, however, legal standards must also be observed in the impeachment process, without reducing it to a merely political exercise of numbers.
“You had to go to some kind of process. You have to have an assessment. Sufficiency in form and substance. You had witnesses, you had an evaluation, and so at the end of the day, I would still like to believe that when members of congress vote, they do so with that in mind,” Gutierrez said.
“Otherwise, if you say—even if it’s practically true—if you cynically say it’s just numbers, then what you have is essentially a hundred elected representatives overruling 14 million people who voted for the vice president,” he also said.
The House is controlled by a so-called “super majority” of Duterte’s allies. An impeachment complaint against Robredo, a member of the opposition Liberal Party and a vocal critic of Duterte’s policies, is seen to prosper.
Gutierrez also finds what the impeachment supporters call as “evidence”—Robredo’s criticisms of the drug campaign and concerns over extrajudicial killings—as “pretty shallow.”
“If you just look at the contents of the statements being made supposedly as the basis of the impeachment, it could be dismissed out of hand,” Gutierrez said on ANC’s “Headstart” on Monday.
What Robredo said in the video message was nothing new, Gutierrez pointed out, and has already been voiced by local and international institutions.
What could be novel to listeners, however, is an account of police’s alleged method of shooting down relatives of suspected drug personalities who could not be found. While the police denies the “palit-ulo” scheme, Robredo’s camp insists that Robredo’s message is based on testimonies of communities affected by the drug war.
Supporters of defeated vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday filed an impeachment complaint against Robredo, asking House Speaker Alvarez to endorse it.
Gutierrez said he has not read the content of the complaint but for now could only judge by the reputation of those behind it.
“It’s clear that they are Marcos loyalists so I can’t help but draw a line on this impeachment complaint and the Marcos camp,” Gutierrez said, referring to Marcos’ ongoing electoral protest case against Robredo.
Tags: human rights, Philippines, United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, House of Representatives, impeachment, Gutierrez, extrajudicial killings, Duterte, Leni Robredo, Robredo, Duterte's war on drugs, impartiality of a possible impeachment process