By Beting Laygo Dolor, Editor-in-Chief
MANILA – In what could be a first in the world, the Philippines’ president and vice president are facing separate impeachment complaints filed within days of each other, which one former president said would only do more harm than good to the country’s image.
Former president and now Manila mayorJoseph Estrada – who was himself the subject of impeachment proceedings before being forced from office via the Edsa 2 revolt – gave his thumbs down to the oddly-timed bids to remove Duterte and Robredo since the pair had been in office for less than a year.
“They’re both in their first year in office. Why not give them a chance?” Estrada told newsmen.
President Rodrigo Duterte and VicePresident Leni Robredo belong to separate political parties, with the chief executive a member of the PDP-Laban while the second highest official of the land is with the opposition Liberal Party (LP). Unlike the US, the Philippines votes for its president and vice president separately.
Mr. Duterte was the first to face an impeachment complaint, which was filed last week by Magdalo Party-list Rep.Gary Alejano. The congressman, a retired military officer allied with Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, accused the chief executive of culpable violation of the Constitution, bribery, betrayal of public trust, and graft and corruption, among others.
In reply, the president said, “They can do their worst. I can do better in my performance as a worker on government. This is a democracy.”
The vice president, on the other hand, was the subject of an impeachment complaint filed by longtime Marcos loyalist Oliver Lozano, who has run and lost for senator on multiple occasions.Co-author of the complaint was Melchor Chavez, another losing senatorial candidate identified with the Marcos camp.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez had earlier said Ms. Robredo had committed an impeachable offense when she issued avideo message to the UN questioning the irregularities of the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign, which has resulted in an estimated 7,000 suspected drug pushers and users killed.
Robredo’s spokesperson GeorginaHernandez said the vice president “will be ready to face it.”
The impeachment complaints were filed against the president and vice president on March 18 and March 20,respectively.
Chances of the House proceeding with the impeachment complaint against the president are considered low, as even the opposition LP has refused to support it.
But while the LP will also not support the complaint against the vice president, chances of it advancing are higher,given the statement from the Speaker.
Mayor Estrada said the Mr. Duterte and Mrs. Robredo should talk and unite “instead of howling at each other.”
Mrs. Robredo,the constitutional successor of Duterte, has been at odds with the President over several issues including the government's heavy handed approach to the war on drugs, possible restoration of the death penalty and lowering the age of criminal liability.
She served as Duterte's housing chief for five months before parting ways with the administration last December after being barred by the President from attending Cabinet meetings. — With GMA News