MANILA, Philippines - There is a greater likelihood of Vice President Leni Robredo getting impeached in the House of Representatives than President Duterte, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said yesterday.
In an interview with dzRH, he said it takes only the signatures of 100 congressmen in the nearly 295-member House to bring any impeachment complaint straight to the Senate and start the trial of any accused official.
“I’m sure the prospects are higher for the Vice President to be impeached,” Pimentel, president of PDP-Laban, said. He declined to comment further, saying he and his Senate colleagues will sit as judges in an impeachment trial.
Without the signatures of one-third of the members of the House, an impeachment complaint will have to be deliberated on first by the committee on justice, which will come out with its recommendation to be voted upon by the entire chamber.
The Duterte administration’s “super majority” led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, secretary general of the PDP-Laban, dominates the House. Pimentel is party president.
Alvarez earlier threatened to file an impeachment complaint against Robredo for alleged betrayal of public trust when she made a video message for a United Nations drugs body that he said besmirched the country’s image before the international community.
Pimentel also stressed that if and when Robredo is impeached and convicted, her ouster does not mean that her rival, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., will automatically take her place.
Marcos, son of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, lost to Robredo by a narrow margin of around 200,000 votes in the elections last May. He has filed an electoral protest against Robredo before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), accusing her of cheating.
Pimentel said the presumption is that Robredo is the duly elected Vice President and Marcos will still have to prove his allegations before the PET.
Under the Constitution, her successor will come from the Senate or the House of Representatives.
The Charter provides that in the event of a vacancy in the office of the vice president, the President shall nominate a successor from among the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The nominee shall assume office upon confirmation by a majority vote of all members of the two chambers voting separately.
In early 2001, a military-backed people power revolt forced then president Joseph Estrada from office in the wake of a corruption scandal.
Then vice president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, whom Estrada suspected was behind his ouster, took over the presidency. This created a vacancy in the office of the vice president.
Arroyo nominated then Senate minority leader Teofisto Guingona Jr. to be her vice president.
The Marcoses are allies of President Duterte, who once introduced the only son of the late martial law ruler to Chinese officials as the country’s next vice president.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is threatening to file an impeachment case against Robredo, whom he has linked to the impeachment complaint initiated by Rep. Gary Alejano of party-list group Magdalo against Duterte.
Aside from her supposed connection to the Alejano initiative, Alvarez also maintained the vice president betrayed public trust by sending a video message to the UN denouncing unabated extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration.
If the Speaker makes good his threat, he can get the signatures of 97 colleagues – one-third of all House members – to send his complaint against Robredo to the Senate for trial.
As for the impeachment complaint against Duterte, Alvarez and other administration allies are raring to kill it.
Congressmen belonging to the Liberal Party said Robredo and the LP are not involved in any effort to destabilize the Duterte government.
“I think the Speaker is misinformed. The vice president and the Liberal Party have nothing to do with the impeachment complaint. The so-called destabilization plots are just a product of their imagination,” Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte said.
Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo said no less than the President himself has declared that Robredo is not part of any destabilization effort against his administration.