VICE President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo should correct some of the supposedly erroneous claims she made in her video message to a United Nations (UN) meeting last week, to erase doubts that she is part of destabilization efforts against the administration, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd said Friday.
Saying he had seen the six-minute video message of Robredo on President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-illegal drugs campaign, Pimentel argued that a clarification from the vice president was in order.
“I think she made three inaccurate statements or claims, misleading claims that should be corrected just to remove suspicion that she is part of destabilization,” Pimentel said in a brief interview with reporters.
Robredo in her video message during the 60th session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, criticized the drug war and even cited figures on the number of those killed in the campaign.
Pimentel noted that the Robredo made an inaccurate claim when she said that more than 7,000 people have been become victims of extrajudicial killings in the country.
The Senate president belied the claim, saying that more than 3,000 reported deaths were the result of legitimate police operations, wherein suspected drug pushers fought back.
Pimentel also chided Robredo for claiming Filipinos were helpless and hopeless, and her description on the “palit-ulo” (head swap) scheme allegedly being implemented by the Philippine National Police.
“Do we feel the general helplessness and hopelessness of the people?” Pimentel asked.
As for the “palit-ulo” scheme, or the alleged practice of the police to arrest members of a drug suspect’s family should he or she refuse to surrender, Pimentel said that being an elected official, he too, had been receiving complaints, but never heard about such scheme.
Asked if the video message of Robredo could be used as a ground to impeach her for betrayal of public trust, Pimentel declined to comment, saying he could become a judge in a Senate impeachment court if a complaint against Robredo is passed by the House of Representatives.
Robredo said the threats to impeach her were borne out of hate, not evidence. Robredo, a lawyer, expressed such sentiments after meeting supporters in her office in New Manila, Quezon City on Thursday.
“We can’t prevent anybody if they want to file whatever they want. But as for me, I hope that hatred…that hatred will not get in the way of the more important things. Because apparently, it is what is happening here,” Robredo said.
The Vice President also dismissed the threat of the “Impeach Leni Team” that it would pry open her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) as part of their case buildup for an impeachment complaint.
“My SALN is a public record and everything is there to see. Well, I don’t even think SALN is the best basis [for what they are trying to do to me]. They should just look at my lifestyle, look at where I am living,” Robredo said in Filipino.
The threat to impeach Robredo came after Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte over the drug deaths, the killings by the “Davao Death Squad,” and “ghost employees” in Davao City Hall when Duterte was mayor.
Buhay Partylist Rep. and Senior Deputy Minority Leader Lito Atienza on Friday called for the scrapping of the impeachment complaints filed against both Duterte and Robredo.
“While I don’t agree with what Vice President Robredo did, I don’t consider it an impeachable act. At the same time, while I don’t agree with what President Duterte is doing in addressing the drug problem, I don’t consider it impeachable. To go through the impeachment process would be a tedious, long process and a waste of the valuable time of Congress,” he said in a statement.
WITH A REPORT FROM LLANESCA T. PANTI