HOUSE Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s threat to impeach Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo is “utterly irresponsible,” Robredo’s camp said on Saturday, as the Vice President denied claims she was behind the impeachment raps filed by the Magdalo party-list group against President Rodrigo Duterte last week.
Talking to reporters in Naga City, Robredo said she was only able to read about Alvarez’s remarks on social media.
“It is difficult to comment because I do not know what his basis is. But the President repeated several times that he is sure that I am not part of any destabilization plot. If his (Alvarez’s) basis is the impeachment complaint filed by Magdalo, they themselves said that I was not part of that filing,” Robredo said.
Robredo’s spokeswoman, Georgina Hernandez, in a television interview on Friday noted that Alvarez had admitted that he still needed to consult his legal team before filing an impeachment complaint.
“And if that is the case, he is making such public statements without sufficient basis and it is purely speculation, really,” she said, adding that “We really think that such statements should not be taken seriously and these are really just empty threats and trying to mind-condition the public.”
Alvarez made the threat to impeach Robredo on Friday, claiming the Vice President betrayed public trust for maligning the country in a video message before a United Nations meeting on illegal drugs in Vienna, Austria last week.
In the video clip, Robredo spoke out against Duterte’s anti-drug war and the so-called “palit-ulo” scheme, wherein the police would take a member of the family of a drug suspect without a warrant if the suspect didn’t want to surrender.
Robredo said her video message was “very factual.”
“That statement came from stories that were conveyed to our office. In fact, we tried to request for data from the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) and PNP (Philippine National Police) as early as January. But our letter was not answered. So we did not know where to turn to. The people who come to us seek protection, seek help. We cannot afford to do nothing,” she said.
Hernandez said: “There is nothing in the video that shows any sort of action as all of the statements on the video are based on facts coming from first-hand accounts of families, urban poor families who sought refuge by visiting personally the Office of the Vice President to share their experiences, as regards the various operations happening in relation to the government’s war on drugs.”
Robredo also denied Malacañang’s claim that the release of the video was timed to coincide with the filing of an impeachment complaint against Duterte last week, as part of a grand scheme to undermine the administration.
The Palace and Alvarez both claimed Robredo was behind the complaint as she would benefit the most from Duterte’s ouster. Robredo is Duterte’s constitutional successor.
“It is just a coincidence that it was released recently…because it would be used in a conference this March. But that was long ago. Long ago,” Robredo said.
Hernandez said those behind the United Nations anti-narcotics meeting made the request for a message from the Vice President last month, and the video message was sent to the organizers before the end of February.
“The decision as to when it will be shared and posted online depended solely on the schedule of the conference, which was beyond our control. We really see here based on facts and timelines, that there is no such coordination as to the filing of the impeachment case and the releasing of the video,” she added.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano on Thursday filed an impeachment complaint against President Duterte over thousands of supposedly drug-related killings, summary executions in Davao City when Duterte was city mayor, as well as alleged graft and corruption.
“As to the plan or the objective of the House speaker, we really could not tell at this point. But we see it is purely conditioning the mind of the public and also really trying to bring the credibility of the Vice President down as she continues to really focus on her work as Vice President, focusing on the real problems of our country including that of poverty alleviation,” Hernandez said.
The erstwhile ruling Liberal Party said on Saturday that accusations linking Robredo to supposed efforts to undermine the Duterte administration were “baseless, orchestrated lies” that could harm the country.
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan reminded the administration that just recently, Duterte himself said Robredo was not involved in supposed destabilization efforts against him.
“The President’s allies should take this cue from him and refrain from sowing lies, as this is infecting the nation instead of uniting us,” Pangilinan, who is the LP president, said in a statement.
“They should stop destabilizing the administration and focus instead on the gargantuan tasks of delivering on its campaign promises such as end ‘endo’ and create jobs, finish the traffic nightmare and ease commuters’ lives, and stop corruption and move the country forward, among others,” Pangilinan added.