PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte won’t try to oust Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, who has been criticized by his allies for “maligning” the government before the international community over the administration’s bloody anti-drug war.
Before leaving for Myanmar on Sunday afternoon, Duterte washed his hands of a threat by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to impeach Robredo for her video message on the drug war before a United Nations anti-narcotics convention in Austria last week.
“Never did anything and I will never do anything about it (impeaching Robredo). You can ask around. I never lifted a finger against anybody. I am done with that. I’m beyond politics. I just want to focus on my job which you have given me,” Duterte told reporters at the Davao International Airport.
In remarks before the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs’ annual meeting at the Vienna International Center on March 16, 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.
Alvarez claimed the Vice President betrayed public trust by making those statements.
But Duterte said: “I don’t mind her (Robredo) business. And I hope she will do the same on me. But if it’s about our job, we’re okay.”
Not behind ‘Naga Leaks’
Duterte also washed his hands off “Naga Leaks,” an anonymous blog written by a group called “We Are Collective,” which accuses the Vice President’s late husband, former Interior and Local Government secretary Jesse Robredo, of coddling drug and gambling lords when he was Naga City mayor.
“You know, Leni thinks I am behind the Naga leaks. If she does not want to believe [that I am not behind it], then so be it,” Duterte said.
The camp of the Vice President has shrugged off threats of impeachment that came after Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte over the drug-related deaths, the killings by the so-called Davao Death Squad allegedly upon Duterte’s orders, and the hiring of ghost employees by Duterte when he was Davao City mayor.
“As far as the Vice President is concerned, as long as we know and we are certain that we are on the side of truth, we won’t be alarmed or afraid of anything. After all, the President himself said that the Vice President is not behind his destabilization,” Georgina Hernandez, Robredo’s spokeswoman, said.
Rep. LRay Villafuerte of Camarines Sur doesn’t see Congress having time for any impeachment complaint.
“We need this impeachment complaint like a hole in the head. I believe that we lawmakers could better spend our time right now crafting reform laws that would help President Duterte achieve his government’s ambitious goal of sustaining growth, reducing poverty and transforming our country into an upper middle-income economy by the time his term ends in 2022,” Villafuerte, a Duterte ally, said in a statement.
“My peers in the House are politically astute enough to realize that no impeachment complaint will gain traction among the people,” he added.