Leni asks Speaker: What’s your basis?
Paolo Romero, Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - March 19, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Leni Robredo yesterday shrugged off the threat of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to file an impeachment complaint against her.

Robredo questioned the basis of Alvarez when he floated the idea of filing a case against her for supposedly betraying the public trust.

“It is difficult to comment because I don’t know his basis (in filing the complaint),” Robredo said in Filipino.

“It’s better to ask Speaker Alvarez what will be his basis,” she told reporters in Naga City.

In a separate interview, Robredo’s spokesperson Georgina Hernandez called on the public to ignore Alvarez’s remark, which she branded as irresponsible.

“He is making such public statements without sufficient basis and it is purely speculation,” Hernandez told ANC.

“What he is trying to share to the public, which is quite irresponsible for a public servant of his stature especially, and so we really think that such statements should not be taken seriously and these are really just empty threats and trying to mind condition the public,” she added.

Alvarez on Friday said he is considering filing an impeachment complaint against Robredo, whom he tagged as among instigators of the impeachment complaint filed against President Duterte by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano.

Robredo denied the allegation, citing the President’s earlier remarks that cleared her from any of the reported destabilization plots against the government.

“He (Duterte) has repeatedly said that he is sure that I am not part of any destabilization plot. If his (Alvarez) basis is the impeachment complaint filed by Magdalo, they already said that I am not part of that,” Robredo said.

‘UN report factual’

Alvarez had said Robredo might have betrayed the public trust when she made a report before the United Nations regarding the situation in the Philippines on the government’s war against illegal drugs.

A video recorded in February was played in the 60th annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs held last week in Vienna, Austria.

In the video, Robredo criticized the human rights abuses committed in the country in connection with the government’s war against illegal drugs.

Amid the Speaker’s allegations, Hernandez maintained there was nothing in the video that betrayed the public’s trust that can be used as a basis for impeachment.

“There is nothing in the video that shows any sort of action as all of the statements on the video are based on facts coming from first-hand accounts of families, urban poor families who sought refuge by visiting personally the Office of the Vice President to share their experiences, as regards to the various operations happening in relation to the government’s war on drugs,” Hernandez said.

Robredo also insisted the statement she gave to the UN was factual as these are based on reports reaching her office.

Robredo lamented that requests for data on the war on drugs were ignored by the Philippine National Police and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

“We don’t know where to go. The people are asking for protection, they are asking for help. We cannot just ignore them,” she added.

Baseless and orchestrated

The Liberal Party, through its president Sen. Francis Pangilinan, also slammed threats to impeach Robredo, saying accusations linking her to alleged destabilization attempts against the Duterte administration are “baseless and orchestrated lies that only harm the country.”

“The President’s allies should take this cue from him and refrain from sowing lies, as this is infecting the nation instead of uniting us,” Pangilinan said.

He said the move to impeach Robredo appears to be part of an orchestrated effort to spread lies: from the so-called NagaLeaks to accusations of destabilization.

Pangilinan said this was the same thing that happened to Sen. Leila de Lima, who is also from the LP and a vocal critic of Duterte, before she was arrested and detained on what he said were trumped-up drug charges.

He said Duterte’s allies are “spooking themselves for no apparent reason, creating political uncertainty.”

“They should stop destabilizing the administration and focus instead on the gargantuan tasks of delivering on its campaign promises such as ‘endo’ and create jobs, finish the traffic nightmare and ease commuters’ lives, and stop corruption and move the country forward, among others,” Pangilinan said.

LP secretary-general and Quezon City Rep. Kit Belmonte said Robredo is not and will not be part of any destabilization moves.

“She was elected to serve the Filipinos and this she would do until the last day of her six-year term,” Belmonte said.

Duterte’s allies have been attacking Robredo following her video message to the UN.

Belmonte stressed the video message narrated true stories of people who have approached Robredo to seek help regarding their experience with the government’s war on drugs.

“They said rogue policemen were involved in the killings. They approached VP because they have nowhere else to go,” he said.

De Lima meanwhile described the impeachment threat as “more than stupid.”

“It’s insane! It’s called arrogance of power,” De Lima said in a handwritten statement from the custodial center at Camp Crame where she is detained.

“Those who cannot understand that those who stifle basic freedoms, those who promote and condone the non-stop EJKs (extrajudicial killings), and those who propagate lies and fake news, fabricate evidence and coerce or induce false testimonies are the real traitors, betrayers of public trust,” she said.

De Lima said everyone should enjoy freedom of thought, conscience and expression and Robredo herself has recently reminded that criticisms and dissent are an essential component of democracy.         

LENI ROBREDO
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