Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
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MANILA – The committee on justice of the Philippine House of Representatives yesterday junked an impeachment complaint filed by a party-list congressman against President Rodrigo Duterte after determining that the case did not meet one of the requirements.
Although the complaint was deemed sufficient in form, 42 congressmen declared that the impeachment case filed by Magdalo party-list Congressman Gary Alejano was “insufficient in substance” with one House leader describing the accusations against Duterte as “multiple hearsay”.
Alejano had accused Duterte in the impeachment complaint of betrayal of public trust by not fighting for Philippine jurisdiction on the South China Sea, allegedly amassing ill-gotten wealth, ordering the killing of criminals when he was Davao mayor and now as President, among other crimes.
Under the House’s rules, an impeachment complaint needs to be both sufficient in form and in substance in order for it to be endorsed to the plenary. A vote of one-third of the 292 congressmen is needed to send the complaint to the Senate, which will hold an impeachment trial.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella welcomed the dismissal of the impeachment complaint as he stressed that the charges against Duterte are “rehashed and trumped up in order to undermine the administration.”
Alejano, for his part, lambasted the justice committee for junking the complaint.
In yesterday’s hearing, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said: “This is multiple, quadruple hearsay. And it is difficult to drag the whole House into things like this and you are expecting that we will issue the subpoena. Only the impeachment court could issue the subpoena if we (forward) this to the Senate.”
After an executive session that lasted an hour, the justice committee members decided to declare Alejano’s complaint as suffucient in form but not lacking in substance.
Alejano decried the dismissal of the mpeachment complaint as he pointed out that questions posed by Fariñas and Congressman Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the committee, needed more than a yes or no answer.
One such question posed to Alejano was whether he had personal knowledge of the accusations he made against Duterte, particularly the killing of criminals and drug suspects.
Fariñas and Umali could not get a yes or no reply from Alejano.
Although he had no personal knowledge of the killings. Alejano said he had witnesses and documents that included news reports and speeches made by Duterte to prove that the President sanctioned or influenced lawmen to do the killings.
In reaction to the dismissal of the impeachment complaint, opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said they can still go after Duterte through other means like the crimes against humanity case filed at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
To this, Duterte told reporters after arriving from China yesterday that the opposition can do what they want, including pursuing the ICC case, to pin him down on the killings of drug suspects in connection with his administration’s war on drugs.
“Ano pa ba gusto nila? (What do they want?) Some people are being taken for a ride. Go ahead. They are free to go ahead (in ICC),” Duterte said. GAC/Expat Media
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