LP senators defend Leni, urge Koko to focus on major PH problems not on impeach threats
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(UPDATED - 11:58 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines – Amid impeach threats against the Vice President, Liberal Party senators on Monday defended Leni Robredo’s video message to the UN, saying it “showed the world that the Philippines enjoys democracy where dissent is respected.”
The LP senators, led by party president Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, also urged Senate president Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III “to focus on the numbers that matter: the thousands of unresolved murders, the rising prices of basic goods, and the 13-million hectare undersea region rich in minerals and biodiversity of Benham Rise.”
“These are the numbers that we should all be focusing on, not the 100 votes of congressmen on the impeachment case threatened by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Solicitor General Jose Calida on Vice President Robredo,” the LP senators said.
They said that “instead of the life and death issues that confront our people every day like putting food on the table and our children’s safety, security, and future, politics is dominating the national discourse. Let us, the country’s elected national leaders, all return the focus on what the people sent us to the Senate to do: to improve their and their children’s lives.”
Earlier, Alvarez said he would lead the move to file an impeachment complaint against Robredo.
The Speaker said the basis of the complaint would be the six-minute video message that the Vice President sent to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs criticizing the Duterte administration's brutal campaign on illegal drugs.
Alvarez considered Robredo's message before the international body a betrayal of public trust, one of the impeachable offenses under the Constitution.
The Speaker welcomed the suggestion by Department of Interior and Local Government Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing to include economic sabotage in the impeachment complaint.
He said he was also amenable to the proposal of Solicitor General Jose Calida to include treason as among the grounds for impeachment.
“Kaya nga pinag-aaralan kong mabuti…Tsaka meron ding anggulo ‘yong betrayal of public trust…Makakatulong ‘yon kasi malaki implication no’n eh kasi ‘yong ginawa n’ya sa United Nations…May epekto ‘yon sa ekonomiya ng bansa at maging sa turismo. Parang dini-discourage n’ya ang mga tao na pumunta rito sa ating bansa,” said Alvarez.
[That’s why I’m carefully studying it…And also there’s a betrayal of public trust angle…That will help because what she did in the United Nations has a big implication…it has an effect n the country’s economy and even tourism. It’s like she’s discouraging people to go to our country.]
But Sen. Franklin Drilon on Monday downplayed the impeachment threats against Robredo.
In an interview with dzRH radio, the Senate Minority Leader said it was the first time that he had heard that criticizing the government was a betrayal of public trust. He also defended Robredo, saying the vice president was only expressing her opinion in the UN video.
"'Yan po ang karapatan ng bawat mamamayan sa malayang sambayanan ng ating bansa na magpahayag ng kanilang opinyon. At kasama na d'yan po si Vice President Leni. Sa aking tingin po ay ang balak nila ay walang basehan," Drilon said.
[It is a right of every citizen of this country to express his or her opinion, including Vice President Leni. I think their plans have no basis.]
“Kung lahat ng pagbatikos at hindi pagsang-ayon sa polisiya ng kasalukuyang administrasyon ay betrayal of public trust, siguro wala nang oposisyon sa ating bansa,” he added.
[If all criticisms or disagreements with the policy of the current administration are betrayal of public trust, maybe the opposition will no longer exist in the country.]
Drilon also responded to criticisms that Robredo’s video message was strategically timed since it was released days before an impeachment complaint was filed against President Rodrigo Duterte.
He said the UN video was filmed a month before it was released so it had no connection with the filing of the complaint by Magdalo party-list representative Gary Alejano last Thursday.
The senator also hoped members of Congress would come to their senses regarding the impeachment threats against the vice president.
“Kahit na numbers game, sana naman matauhan 'yong mga ating mga kasamahan sa Kongreso… na ito'y walang kabase-base at kasama sa propaganda [Even if this is a numbers game, I hope our colleagues in Congress would come to their senses that it has no basis and is included in a propaganda],” he said.