LEADERS of the House of Representatives have ruled out impeachment moves against President Rodrigo Duterte, brushing aside a claim by Sen. Leila de Lima that the Chief Executive is a murderer.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte and House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte made the declaration following a statement by de Lima that Duterte could be impeached, supposedly for admitting to killing people and endorsing mass murder.
“Senator de Lima is not only a liar but a stupid one, too. You cannot just impeach an official for mere words. You have to prove the offense. What if the President would later say he was only joking?” Alvarez said.
De Lima, a former Justice secretary, claimed the President’s statements could be viewed as culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust, and that these involved “high crimes.”
Since Duterte’s assumption to the presidency, police have reported killing 2,086 people in anti-drug operations. More than 3,000 others have been killed in unexplained circumstances, according to official figures.
“The President could only be impeached by acts or omissions committed as President. The President said that such happened when he was a mayor patrolling the streets of Davao…to keep them drug- or crime-free,”
Fariñas, one of the public prosecutors during the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012, pointed out.
“In fact, she (de Lima) had investigated such cases and came up with no actionable offenses,” Fariñas added.
De Lima, as Justice chief and Commission on Human Rights chairwoman, investigated the Davao Death Squad allegedly led by Duterte when he was mayor of Davao City. Duterte has denied his involvement with the group.
For de Lima, Duterte has no business being President because he is a killer.
“We have an unfit President. He just confessed to doing the killing of people in Davao and we know that he’s the one encouraging, promoting and tolerating these killings and therefore, that is an impeachable offense.
What we have is mass murder,” de Lima said in a CNN interview.
Duterte made the comments in a speech on Monday night to businessmen as he discussed his campaign to eradicate illegal drugs.
After speaking about police killing suspects during the current crime war, Duterte said he led similar efforts when he was mayor of Davao, the major southern city that he ruled for most of the previous 20 years.
“In Davao I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys (police) that if I can do it why can’t you,” Duterte said in his speech in Malacañang.
“And I’d go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble also. I was really looking for a confrontation so I could kill.”
Duterte also responded to criticism from human rights groups and US President Barack Obama about his brutal anti-crime tactics, vowing to continue his crackdown.
“If they say that I am afraid to stop [the campaign]because of the human rights and guys from including Obama: Sorry, I am not about to do that,” he said.