THE impeachment complaint recently filed against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is part of an act to “discredit the administration,” Malacañang said on Thursday, March 16.
Earlier on the same day, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano filed the first impeachment complaint against Duterte before the House of Representatives, accusing the president of culpably violating the Constitution, engaging in bribery, betraying public trust, committing graft and corruption, and other high crimes.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella maintained that the complaint has no basis, stressing that Duterte did not commit any impeachable offense.
“No treason, betrayal of trust, bribery, graft, and corruption, high crime and culpable violation of the Constitution has been committed,” Abella remarked.
Abella then said that it “seems rather dramatic that everything seems to be so coordinated at this stage with acts of trying to discredit the administration and trying to throw doubt.”
He also reaffirmed that the Duterte administration “upholds due process and is ready for the consequences of his actions, and takes into consideration above all the interest of the Filipino people.”
Like Abella, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II agreed that Alejano’s complaint has “no factual and legal basis.”
Sought for comments, Aguirre said that the allegations have no “concrete solid evidence that would support findings of any of the enumerated grounds for impeachment.”
“This impeachment complaint was nothing but filed in aid of destabilization,” he added.
Alejano denied the accusations that his impeachment bid is part of a destabilization scheme.
While Duterte has immunity from suit as the country’s president, the Article 11, Sec. 2 of the 1987 Constitution state that he “may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.”
According to Alejano, Duterte is “not fit to serve as president” and “should be held liable for the crimes he committed.”
In his 16-page complaint, Alejano cited Duterte’s alleged links to the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS), the massive killings in his war against illegal drugs, and his alleged undeclared wealth worth nearly P2.2 million.
“We reiterate that so called extrajudicial [killings] are not state-sponsored and the President has made sure that he will not turn a blind eye to uniformed personnel who violate and abuse the law,”
Confessed members of the DDS, Edgar Matobato and Arturo Lascañas, previously testified before separate Senate inquiries that Duterte ordered the killings of criminals and critics through the death squad during his term as Davao City mayor.
“As testified to by Matobato and Lascañas and as will be affirmed by other witnesses against him, respondent Duterte offered and gave, by himself and through his subalterns, prize money, rewards and/or bounties for the killing of suspected drug lords, drug users and other crime suspects, as well as personal and political enemies,” the complaint read.
The president recently confirmed the existence of DDS but only during the martial law period 1980s.
Denying the the accusations of Matobato and Lascañas, Duterte explained that the group was formed to combat the Special Partisan Unit (SPARU), also referred to as “sparrow unit,” which was the hit squad of the New People’s Army (NPA) in 1980s.
According to Matobato’s lawyer, Attorney Jude Sabio, the two hitman’s testimonies show a pattern of similarities between the DDS killings and the deaths linked to Duterte’s controversial war against illegal drugs.
He described Matobato and Lascañas as “vital witnesses” who could prove that “the Davao death squad was used by Duterte as a template, or as a strategy or policy, for crime control through extrajudicial killings since he became president.”
More than 8,000 people have reportedly killed in the drug war since Duterte took office last July, according to latest estimates. The government has repeatedly insisted that the deaths were not state-sanctioned, noting that majority of the killings were committed by unknown vigilante suspects.
“We reiterate that so called extrajudicial [killings] are not state-sponsored and the President has made sure that he will not turn a blind eye to uniformed personnel who violate and abuse the law,” Adella said.
However, human rights group, such as Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW), claimed that police themselves conduct extrajudicial executions disguised as unknown killers.
Despite the warning that such killings “may amount to crimes against humanity,” Duterte maintained that his campaign against illegal drugs continues.
“Contrary to his oath of office and to the Constitution and prevailing laws, Respondent Rodrigo Roa Duterte publicly adopted a policy of promoting, encouraging, as well as aiding and abetting in the extrajudicial killing of persons suspected of being drug-pushers, drug-users and/or committing other crimes,” the complaint read.
Alejano also cited in the complaint the allegations of Senator Antonio Trillanes that Duterte had an almost two billion pesos worth of undeclared wealth in his three bank accounts from 2006 to 2015.
He also mentioned the supposed 11,000 “ghost employees” during Duterte’s mayor term in 2014 which cost the government of P708 million.
“Having committed all of these acts, respondent Rodrigo Duterte has not only committed graft and corruption and other high crimes, which constitute specific grounds for his impeachment from office, he has also undermined the integrity of the Office of the President, has brought disrepute on the Presidency, and has acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice,” the complaint further read. n