THE “Impeach Leni Movement” composed of supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte failed to initiate impeachment proceedings against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo on Tuesday, as no lawmaker endorsed their complaint.
The group, led by law professor Bruce Rivera, said lawmakers had urged them to file the complaint, but admitted that such were only encouragements and were not tantamount to endorsement.
The 1987 Constitution provides that “a verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution or endorsement by any Member thereof, which will be included in the Order of Business within ten session days, and referred to the proper Committee within three session days thereafter.”
Rivera declined to name the lawmakers supportive of the complaint.
“When we were forming it (complaint), they already reached out and told us to that we continue it because that is what they also wanted. But you have to understand from our end that even if they (lawmakers) reached out, we cannot assume that it is an endorsement because they will still have to read the grounds [for impeachment],” he told reporters.
“We are not confident [that we will get an endorsement], we don’t want to be confident because anything can happen. It’s hard to say [who is going to endorse],” Rivera added.
The Impeach Leni Team is accusing the Vice President of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and graft and corruption because of her criticisms of the bloody anti-drug war in a United Nations (UN) side meeting; alleged misdeclaration of her Meralco assets in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth by not stating the asset’s amount and misuse of the Home Development Mutual (Pag-IBIG) Fund for a convention in the United States for “empowerment,” which was not related to the housing sector.
Rivera said some lawmakers thought the complaint was about Robredo’s statement before the UN meeting, “and so it is flimsy.”
“But we told them we have a good case here. We submitted everything to the congressmen’s office but we agreed to keep their name under wraps. We don’t want to force them into something that needs to be discussed first. We don’t want to step on anybody’s toes,” he pointed out.
“We understand that they (lawmakers) have to be circumspect about it. Once we’re told that it (impeachment) is ready, then that’s the time we’ll be asked to come here. I don’t want to preempt anything,” Rivera added.
President Duterte, who is facing a verified impeachment complaint filed by Rep. Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list, has already warned his allies against filing impeachment raps against Robredo.
Rivera’s group, however, is determined to pursue the ouster of Robredo.
“We feel that we have to do it to show the world that democracy is working in the Philippines. Impeachment is a democratic process. What she said in the UN was reckless and unforgivable, and she did not declare the amount of her Meralco shares in her SALN,” Rivera said.
Rep. Jericho Nograles of PBA Party-list denied that he was considering endorsing the complaint and lashed out at Rivera and another complainant, Trixie Angeles.
“Am I a complainant? Of course not! I have not met them before. I asked them if we know each other and they could not answer. They went to my office, left this document, without even meeting me. I even had to ask them, through my secretary, to come back,” Nograles told reporters.
“What they did was improper. I returned their complaint to them. It’s none of my business. I find it highly irregular for these attorneys at law to use my name over a document that they prepared without my consent. That’s misrepresentation and could be a ground for disbarment. In the meantime, I already informed the Office of the Secretary General that I have not endorsed any impeachment complaint against the Vice President,” Nograles, who did not read the Impeach Leni Team complaint, added.