AS expected, the House of Representatives threw out the impeachment complaint filed against President Rodrigo Duterte.
All 42 members of the justice committee led by Rep. Rey Umali of Oriental Mindoro voted to junk the complaint filed by Rep. Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list for insufficiency in substance.
Alejano wanted Duterte impeached for alleged betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution in connection with the drug killings, alleged failure to assert the country’s sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea and failure to declared wealth amounting to P2 billion.
“His complaint is baseless and all hearsay. Everything is without proper authentication, and he admitted that he has no personal knowledge of what is in his complaint. How can we proceed with that?” Umali said.
“The problem here is that you took it upon yourself that to say that the material allegations in your complaint were true and correct. These are complicated hearsay,” House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte said.
During the deliberations, Umali and Fariñas repeatedly shackled Alejano by forcing him to only answer yes or no to their queries on his personal knowledge of his accusations. The two also repeatedly barred Alejano from making a statement.
“If you’re asking if I saw the killings myself, I did not. But I culled the information on the impeachment complaint from authentic records and public pronouncements of the President,” Alejano said.
“I am not a witness to the killings. I am a witness to the affidavit made by the witnesses on the killings,” he added, referring to confessed Davao Death Squad hitmen Edgar Matobato and Arturo Lascañas who testified before a Senate inquiry.
Fariñas warned that Alejano can be held liable for perjury and face an ethics complaint.
The former Marine captain shrugged off the threat.
“I’m aware of the consequences. If they will resort to that, then so be it. They control the ethics committee. If they want to kick me out, that’s on them. I am not here just to enjoy an air-conditioned room,” he told reporters.
“I am not elected in Congress to play around. I am willing to put my position at stake because I stand for what is right. And what happened shows that congress is unwilling to prosecute the President,” Alejano added. “This is about the victims of extrajudicial killings, the interest of our country when it comes to our rights over South China Sea and Benham Rise and transparency. The deaths of thousands of people is not a propaganda.”
Duterte’s legal counsel Salvador Panelo said the junking of the complaint was expected because it was based on “hearsay.”
“As I have repeatedly said in my interviews, the impeachment complaint will not reach first base because the allegations are based on hearsay. Others are outright false,” Panelo said.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the impeachment complaint “was from rehashed, trumped up charges aimed at undermining the duly constituted government.”
“The President respects a co-equal branch of government and does not interfere in the political exercise. Neither is he beholden to any group and he remains focused on governance,” Abella said.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd said that while majority of House members are supporters of the President, the lawmakers also had legal basis in rejecting the complaint.
“We have no other choice but to respect it because they (congressmen) were the ones who examined thoroughly and in detail the impeachment complaint,” Pimentel added.
Meanwhile, Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th said that he is considering other ways to bring out the truth about Duterte.
“Now we have no other recourse but to look for other modes on how we could bring out the truth and they won’t have any control on the possible outcome,” Trillanes, a staunch critic of the President, said. With Jefferson Antiporda