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House opposition divided on Duterte impeachment

MANILA, Philippines - The Liberal Party (LP) group in the House of Representatives is divided on the impeachment of President Duterte.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the leaders of the LP-led opposition in the House, yesterday expressed resentment over the statement of deputy speaker and Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo that the LP would not support Duterte’s impeachment.

“There has been no meeting called by the Liberal Party leadership among its members in the House and in the Senate on the Duterte impeachment complaint,” Lagman said in a statement.

“In particular, the LP contingent in the authentic minority has not been consulted either individually or collectively on Quimbo’s statement that the LP members in the House are not supporting the impeachment complaint against Duterte,” he added.

A “fair reading” of the complaint filed by Rep. Gary Alejano of party-list group Magdalo against the President “shows that it is sufficient in form and in substance,” Lagman said.

“The committee on justice must conduct extensive hearings on the complaint and allow Rep. Alejano to present witnesses and documents to support the impeachment of President Duterte,” he added.

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Alejano belongs to Lagman’s seven-member minority group. Five of the seven are LP congressmen, while two are party-list representatives.

The remaining 28 LP House members belong to the majority coalition led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Quimbo is the highest-ranking LP member in the House.

Lagman and his opposition colleagues voted against the death penalty bill, while most LP members belonging to the minority voted for it. Five of the 28 who voted against capital punishment have lost their committee chairmanships.

Aside from purging LP members, Alvarez has threatened to file an impeachment case against Vice President Leni Robredo, who chairs the former ruling party during the Aquino administration.

On Tuesday, Quimbo said the Alejano complaint is “doomed.”

“The complaint against the President, I see no chance of it gaining any support simply because it is ill-timed… the President is very popular. You don’t do that to a popular president,” he said.

Commenting on the issue of timing, Alejano has said now is the right time to file an impeachment case against the President in the wake of unabated extrajudicial killings and his alleged unexplained wealth.

He accused Duterte of pursuing a state policy of killing drug suspects without due process and of having amassed bank deposits amounting to P2.2 billion.

The President has denied the accusations.

Alejano said Duterte’s “abuses and excesses” have to be exposed and his critics should not be intimidated by his popularity.

“We would be remiss in doing our duty to our people if we succumb to intimidation,” he said.

Leni focused on duties

Meanwhile, despite threats of impeachment, Robredo continues to focus on her work meant to uplift the lives of the poor, her spokesperson said yesterday.

“VP Leni is focused on the Angat Buhay program and on other duties of our office,” Georgina Hernandez said in an interview.

Launched in October last year, Angat Buhay is the Office of the Vice President’s anti-poverty program aimed at helping local government units find partner agencies from the public and private sectors that can help them with their projects.

 Yesterday, Robredo led the signing of a memorandum of agreement for the implementation of a livelihood support program for the victims of Typhoon Nina in Pasacao, Camarines Sur.

She was set to return to Manila in the afternoon to speak before the Liga ng mga Barangay ng Pilipinas Bicol Regional Congress at the Philippine Trade Training Center in Pasay City.

On Tuesday, she held a dialogue with mixed-crop farmers in Barangay Berwar, Tangcal, Lanao del Norte and visited the women weavers of Barangay Dayawan in Marawi City.

Tangcal, a fifth class municipality, is among the first 50 local government units chosen to be part of Angat Buhay.

It was named among the 20 poorest municipalities in 2009.

Robredo linked the Marawi weavers with the Angat Buhay partners for the marketing of landap, a traditional clothing of Maranaons. – With Helen Flores

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