VICE PRESIDENT Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo and her Liberal party mates on Tuesday denied a plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte, with Robredo calling the accusation that came from the President himself “misinformation.”
Duterte on Monday said the “yellows” were out to discredit and impeach him, claiming they were behind the international media play-up of his expletive-laden outburst against the United States and US President Barack Obama amid last week’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations summits in Laos.
Yellow is the color associated with the Liberal Party (LP) of former President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Robredo, the LP’s highest-ranking elected official who was given the Social Welfare and Development portfolio by Duterte, said in a statement: “There are no moves from the Liberal Party to unseat the President.”
“In fact, the leadership of the party has been consistently demonstrating its support to this administration. Members of the party coalesced with the majority in the House and the Senate,” she added.
Robredo was referring to the LP lawmakers who belong to the “Super Majority” bloc led by Duterte’s allies from PDP-Laban, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, Nacionalista Party, National Unity Party and Lakas-CMD in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Rep. Romero Quimbo of Marikina, a Liberal, is one of the 12 deputy speakers of the House.
Robredo said she would “clarify” the “misinformation” on the supposed impeachment plot with the President and assure him of the party’s commitment to his reform measures, particularly on poverty and the fight against illegal drugs.
“We’ve offered the anti-poverty programs and policies that I’ve been pushing for to complement the government’s priorities on poverty alleviation. We’ve been coordinating with the relevant government agencies so that our office can help in the rehabilitation effort that needs to accompany the campaign against illegal drugs,” she added.
Liberal congressmen Feliciano Belmonte Jr. of Quezon City, Edcel Lagman of Albay, Raul Daza of Northern Samar and Edgar Erice of Caloocan City echoed Robredo.
Belmonte said it would be hard to impeach Duterte, who controls Congress.
“He (Duterte) is overwhelmingly popular which amounts to a public approval of his programs. Secondly, he has overwhelming majority in the House where impeachment starts,” Belmonte said.
Daza agreed that impeachment was definitely off the table.
“As you already know, 28 of the 33 LP members are with the Super Majority [bloc]. We [in the LP]have not even talked about impeachment. Impeachment, under the Constitution, begins in the House and I am sure there has not been any talk about that,” Daza said.
For Lagman, a Liberal stalwart who chose to be part of the House minority, the President had no one to blame but himself for what happened last week.
“It is the President who is … impeaching himself with ill-conceived statements that are unmindful of adverse effects and compromising consequences,” Lagman told reporters, referring to the President’s tirades against the US, expletives against world leaders, and controversial statements against political opponents.
At least five LP members belong to the House opposition bloc that has called itself the “Legitimate 8” following the installation of Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez as minority leader.
Lagman’s group, which claims the Suarez-led minority is friendly to the Super Majority, includes Daza, Erice, Teodoro Baguilat of Ifugao and Emmanuel Billones of Capiz.
Erice clarified that being in the opposition did not mean support for Duterte’s ouster.
“We don’t talk about impeachment because it is bad for our country and for our economy. We do not wish impeachment for the President,” Erice said.
“We want President Duterte to succeed, and our role [in the opposition]is to provide check and balance. The President should also try to appreciate that what we are doing here [as opposition lawmakers]is also good for the country,” Erice added.