An opposition lawmaker has filed an impeachment complaint in the Philippine Congress against President Duterte, calling for his removal for “high crimes, betrayal of public trust and abuses of power”.
Lower house representative Gary Alejano has accused the president of a long list of impeachable offences, including conflicts of interest, asset concealment and being behind the Davao Death Squad when he was the city’s mayor.
The president’s lawyer, Salvador Panelo, described it as “baseless black propaganda”, adding the impeachment bid “will not fly, nor will it make a dent on the overwhelming popularity” of the president.
Rep. Alejano, a former soldier who joined failed coup attempts in 2003 and 2007, has said his aim was to give his countrymen a chance to speak up against a president who had overstepped the mark. “Our goal with this complaint is to be a vehicle for Filipinos to have a voice to oppose and fight against the abuses and crimes of President Duterte,” he told a televised news conference.
“We know it’s an uphill battle, but we believe that many will support this.”
The impeachment effort is the first against Duterte since he took office eight months ago. Former president Gloria Arroyo survived five such motions during her two terms of office.
As we have previously reported (here) the president is also facing a possible trial at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Edgar Matobato, who claims he used to be a hitman for Mr Duterte, has said he is ready to file a case for crimes against humanity.
Rep. Alejano’s central claim is that the bloody war on drugs is a “culpable violation of the constitution, engaging in bribery, betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption and other high crimes”.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella dismissed the move was part of a wider plot to undermine the current administration. “It seems rather dramatic that everything seems to be so coordinated at this stage,” he said.
“It looks like they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.”
Rep. Alejano admitted that his complaint would struggle to succeed. However, he expressed the hope that it would embolden the church, academia and Filipinos who disagree with the president’s policies to know they can take him on.
“We know the numbers are against us, and we are facing a big challenge,” he added.
Lower house speaker and ally of the president, Pantaleon Alvarez, predicted that Alejano would fail, but should still be allowed to exercise his rights. “We are all entitled to our own stupidity,” he added.