Liberal Party to oppose impeachment raps vs Duterte, Robredo

In this July 12, 2016 =photo, President Rodrigo Duterte administers the oath of office to Vice-President Maria Leonor Robredo, during her inauguration as Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council chief Secretary at Malacañan Palace. Robredo stepped down from Duterte's Cabinet in December due to policy differences. The two leaders are facing impeachment complaints filed at the House of Representatives. PPD/Rey Baniquet

MANILA, Philippines — Members of the Liberal Party, including those in the majority, will not be supporting impeachment complaints against President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo.

Deputy Speaker Romero "Miro" Quimbo said on Thursday that 15 members of the party recently met with Robredo to discuss party-related administrative matters, as well as the issue on impeachment. Robredo is the highest elected member of the Liberal Party and an emerging opposition leader.

"The LP House majority caucus members present categorically took a position that we will not support any of the impeachment complaints filed against the leaders of the land," Quimbo said in a statement.

In March, an impeachment complaint was filed by Magdalo party-list Gary Alejano against Duterte for possible violation of the Constitution in issues of maritime rights, engagement in bribery and "other high crimes."

In the same month, lawyer Oliver Lozano filed an impeachment complaint against Robredo for "betrayal of public trust" for sending a video message criticizing the president's war against drugs to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

Quimbo said that for the lower chamber of Congress to take up any of the impeachment complaints will only be "divisive as well as polarizing."

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"It will only distract us from the many important matters that congress should be giving priority to," he added.

In March, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the leaders of the Liberal Party-led minority in the House, expressed resentment over an earlier statement of Quimbo that the party as a whole will 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.

Lagman said Liberal Party members in the minority should have been consulted before the statement was released.

READ: House opposition divided on Duterte impeachment

Quimbo, meanwhile, reiterated an earlier remark that the party will continue its "strongest commitment" supporting Robredo.

He also said that party members who are out of town will be informed of the decision in subsequent meetings before Congress reopens in May.

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