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Rody to Leni: I've no hand in impeachment threat vs you, I don't suspect you in raps vs me

President Duterte and VP Robredo, seen here in file photo in happier times: he said Sunday he had nothing to do with his allies' threat to file an impeachment case against her; and would not conclude either that she had encouraged his critics to file the impeachment complaint against him on the eve of the congressional recess. FILE PHOTO, OVP HANDOUT
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MANILA - (UPDATE 9:20 p.m.) President Duterte said Sunday he had no hand in the threat of his allies to file an impeachment case against Vice President Leni Robredo, whom he said he has not blamed for the filing of the impeachment complaint against him before Congress went on a six-week break.

In reply to a reporter's query, Duterte said he "would not be surprised" if he learned that Robredo was among those backing the filing by his critics of an impeachment complaint, but stressed that he had not prejudged her either on the matter, and was "not concluding" that she was involved.

"I will not be surprised if she's there or I will not speculate that she's not there. Kasi di ako nakikialam sa buhay nya, mam. Sana wag nya pakialaman yung akin. Pero sa trabaho ok lang."

Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano filed the complaint a day before the House of Representatives went on a six-week break until May 2, leading Duterte allies to describe the move as sheer publicity stunt to embarrass the President.

In an apparent tit-for-tat using the impeachment process, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he was considering filing an impeachment case against Robredo, for casting the country in a bad light with her videotaped statement before a United Nations panel, where she decried the extra-judicial killings that marred Duterte's war on drugs.

Robredo, a lawyer, had committed betrayal of public trust in making unfounded claims that could discourage tourists and investments, according to Alvarez.

Duterte: ready to face raps

Duterte, for his part, said he was ready to face any impeachment case, and was a fatalist ready to pay the price for what he fights for.

The President said he would pursue his fight against corruption, drugs and crime, regardless of the consequences, especially if a legal challenge to his actions would force his ouster or land him in jail.

"Sa akin 'yang [I consider] impeachment [as], I go with the rules of destiny. What gave me the presidency was pure destiny. If I get impeachrd or if I go to prison... as long as i have the right to select where I should rot for all time... basta may [as long there's a]  beach... ok na po ako [I'll be okay]."

 But, he said, he hoped the country's second highest official would not meddle in his job, "kasi hindi naman ako nakialam sa buhay niya . . . at sana di siya makialam sa akin."

He swore he did not call Alvarez or any of his allies to tell them to file a complaint against Robredo, who earlier also disavowed any hand in the Alejano complaint.  Alejano himself also insisted it was purely an initiative of the Magdalo party list and not the Liberal Party where Robredo belongs.

"I never did anything and I will not do anything about it. Tapos na ako dyan [I'm done with that]."

SolGen backs Speaker

Meanwhile, Solicitor General Jose Calida said that he will support Alvarez's plan to file an impeachment complaint against Robredo over the latter's video to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

”I fully understand and support the sentiment of Speaker Bebot Alvarez that VP Robredo should be rightfully condemned for slandering and selling out our country and its leaders before the UN Commission on Narcotics Drugs,” Calida said in a statement Sunday.

”VP Robredo debased her office and herself by betraying the trust of our people. Worse, she shamelessly pandered to the desperate desire of Yellow Cult to depose President Duterte which if successful, will immensely benefit her. Obviously, the carping VP Robredo has joined the ranks of the destabilizers,” he added.

”In the event that the Speaker will initiate the impeachment of VP Robredo, my office will gladly lend its legal services to such endeavor,” Callida noted.

Alvarez: studying options

Alvarez welcomed the offer of support from Calida, as well as the unsolicited advice of DILG assistant secretary Epimaco Densing that the charge against Robredo is economic sabotage.

Referring to Densing's thesis of economic sabotage and Calida's treason, Alvarez said he was studying the matter closely before filing anytying because he wanted a solid case against Robredo.

"There is also the angle of betrayal of public trust. Her act before the UN has a major implication; it impacts the country's economy and even tourism. She (Robredo) is effectively discouraging people from coming to the Philippines," Alvarez said at the weekend, speaking mostly in Filipino.

"Mas malaki pa ang tyansa na ma-impeach si Leni kaysa kay Pangulong Duterte.. dahil ito ay malinaw ang violation [There's an even greater chance of Leni being impeached rather than Duterte . . .because her violation is clear]," said Alvarez.

The Speaker said he was certain they have the numbers of impeach Robredo, but was nonetheless studying the case well before filing anything.

"I do not want to rely on numbers. That's easy enough to do because we are the super majority. But we need to have enough evidence, the substance [indicating the] violation of the law. We have to make sure that it can stand trial in an impeachment court, otherwise it's a waste of time,"  the Speaker said in Filipino.