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Magdalo: Recess gives solons time to study impeach-Duterte case; vote not done deal

President Rodrigo Duterte and Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano. INTERAKSYON.COM
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - The impeachment complaint filed by the Magdalo party list against President Duterte is not pure propaganda stunt, as his allies assert, but is a serious case that in time could draw the required numbers as lawmakers use the Congress break until May 2 to study the matter, chief proponent Rep. Gary Alejano said Sunday.

In fact, Alejano said, he has gotten feelers of support from the so-called independent minority of seven lawmakers, and his analysis is that there are many other lawmakers who could line up for impeachment as well, if the voting on the death penalty bill were any indication.

Alejano said they were pleasantly surprised that 54 lawmakers voted against reviving the death penalty when the House of Representatives voted in plenary on third and final reading.

Referring to the minority called "Magnificent 7," Alejano said the bloc was "supportive" but added, "ayoko silang unahan. May kanya kanya namang tayo yan. So hintayin natin ang kanilang mga pronouncement. [I don't want to get ahead of them. They have their own individuals positions. So let's wait for their pronouncement]."

In a radio interview, Alejano disputed the reading of Duterte allies that Magdalo timed the filing of the impeachment complaint on the eve of Congress' taking a six-week break, because it was not serious about mustering the vote for impeachment and had merely filed it for "propaganda" purposes - as part of a supposed continuing campaign to embarrass and destabilize the administration.

On the contrary, said Alejano, filing it on the eve of a long break would allow members of Congress to study the matter well, so they do not get pressured or stampeded by the House leadership. The latter had moved on Thursday (May 16) to strip 11 committee chiefs, along with Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, of their posts for having voted against the administration's  death penalty bill.

During the break, the other lawmakers would also have time to discuss the matter with their respective parties during the break: "That's why this vacation period is a good time for discussions. The complaint won't be touched, and then allow members to discuss about it," he said on DzBB, partly in Filipino.

Alejano was asked if he believed there is a "silent minority" that could later emerge to support impeachment, and he replied: "Yes. In fact during the death penalty vote, we were surprised that as many as 54 voted No. And yet we didn't hear from many of them - until the last minute. I sense that many are supporting our move. Actually many have signified their...... conveyed their support for the filing of the impeachment complaint."

Still, he conceded, "ang tanong pa rin is kung kaya nilang lumabas at magsalita. Alam naman natin ang estilo ng gobyernong ito, pag nagsalita ka ay instead na titingnan yong issue na ni-raise ay titirahin kaagad yong nagsasalita. So destabilization. Hindi maharap kumbaga ang issue, nagda-divert sa ibang issue at tatakutin ka [The question is still whether they can stand up and speak. You know the style of the government: if you speak up, instead of looking at the issue, you'll be accused of destabilization. When it cannot face an issue, it diverts it and resorts to terrorizing people]".

Alejano cautioned Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez - who quickly dubbed the Magdalo move as "stupidity" while admitting he had not read the complaint - against being too overconfident about having a solid number to kill the impeachment complaint.

"'Wag masyadong kampante sa majority na dahil sa kanilang victory kumbaga sa death penalty ay they can do everything. dahil sa pagboto dyan sa death penalty, may mga dynamics na nade-develop as of now [They shouldn't be too confident about their votes and think they can do everything just because of their win in the death penalty bill. There are certain dynamics developing as of now]." 

To impeach the President, proponents like Alejano need only a 1/3 vote out of 293 House members, or 97.