‘Impeachment move an unwelcome distraction’
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - March 24, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  A distraction from government work and highly divisive.

This was how Vice President Leni Robredo described yesterday the impeachment moves against her and President Duterte, which she said should be stopped.

She stressed hatred should “not get in the way of more important things” as a group of lawyers announced their plan to file another impeachment complaint against her.

Lawyer Oliver Lozano and Melchor Chavez had earlier filed an impeachment complaint against Robredo for her videotaped message on extrajudicial killings happening in the country amid the war on drugs that was aired in a United Nations side event.

The complaint was filed after Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez threatened to have Robredo impeached in apparent retaliation to Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano’s filing of an impeachment case against Duterte on various charges.

Alvarez accused Robredo of being behind Alejano’s move but the Vice President denied this.

“There are so many work that must be done. (The impeachment complaints) will be very divisive for our country. My view is that it will not be good in the long run,” Robredo said. 

“Impeach Leni Team” – the group of lawyers and members of academe, including an official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) – plans to file an impeachment complaint against the Vice President when Congress resumes session in May.

The group, a vocal critic of Robredo in social media, said she committed impeachable offenses, including her message to the UN.

“We cannot prevent people from filing whatever they want to file,” Robredo said, noting that while she is hoping that hatred would not get in the way of what they need to do, “that seems to be what’s happening.”

On Wednesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Robredo’s videotaped remarks on alleged drug-related extrajudicial killings in the Philippines require verification and her message was not part of official proceedings of the 60th Session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (UN-CND).

The DFA also said it did not reflect the stand of participating governments.

In the video, Robredo issued a strong rebuke of Duterte’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs and raised the human rights abuses being committed in the course of the war.

She described the government’s drug war as an issue of public health that could not be solved “with bullets alone.”

More than 8,000 people have died since Duterte began his war on drugs upon his assumption of office on June 30.

But Robredo emphasized that verbalizing dissent does not mean wanting to replace the President.

“It is true that we are very vocal against the killing of ordinary Filipinos... We want to be heard… that we feel strongly about certain things,” Robredo said.

“Working together” with the President, she said, is important but dissent on certain issues is misinterpreted as destabilization.

The Vice President also said her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) is public record that could not be the basis of an impeachment complaint being built up by the lawyers’ group.

“It’s public record and everything is there,” Robredo said.

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