With administration allies dominant in the House of Representatives and the Senate, impeachment complaints against President Rodrigo Duterte will not prosper, legislators said.
Former House Majority Floor Leader Fredenil Castro and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said the impeachment plans will not gain traction in the Senate that will result to the House withholding such an action.
“Congressmen are forward-looking. If they believe that in the Senate there is no chance, I think it will be dead in the committee because it’s a numbers game,” Salceda said.
Critics, citing President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘verbal agreement’ with Chinese President Xi Jinping that allowed Chinese fishermen in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, wanted the President impeached for violating the Constitution.
However, Senators said the Chief Executive could not be ousted from his post as there were no evidence that could prove Duterte’s agreement with Xi.
The Senate is now dominated with pro-administration senators as candidates of the opposition were shutout from the Senate race.
Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, the president’s former most trusted aide, added he will not vote for the impeachment of the President.
“Filing an impeachment against the President is a right but personally I don’t see any basis for it. In my view, it won’t prosper,” Go said.
Castro said the President is only “troubleshooting” the issue on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) as there are dangers and risks on the said matter.
“I believe that President Duterte is a good troubleshooter. The problem in the West Philippine Sea needs troubleshooting because the danger and the risk is there. In the meantime, the code of conduct is being discussed and finalized. Then, what the President is doing is not an impeachable offense,” Castro said.
President Duterte has threatened the critics plotting for his impeachment saying he will put them behind bars if they try to pursue it.
“Impeach me? I will jail you all. Try it…Try to take it, do it, and I will do it,” Duterte said.
This was the response of presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo to losing Liberal Party senatorial candidate Florin Hilbay’s call for the Senate to conduct a probe into the supposed agreement entered into by Duterte and Chinese President.
Mr. Duterte, on the heels of the Recto Bank incident last month where a Filipino and a Chinese fishing boat collided, said he could not bar Chinese fishermen in the Philippines’ EEZ due to his “mutual agreement” with Xi made in 2016.
“Tell him he’s not the Solicitor General anymore. He should just keep quiet,” Panelo said.
Hilbay was one of the members of the legal team in its arbitration case against China which it won after a United Nations (UN)-backed international tribunal invalidated the latter’s historical nine-dash line claim in the WPS.
According to him, there is “no way under Philippine laws and (the Constitution)” that the said agreement between the two leaders could be “legal and binding.”
Panelo clapped back by saying Hilbay should just shut up since he and the other opposition candidates in last May’s senatorial race were “overwhelmingly repudiated” by the voting public.
“The issues they have raised against the President and this administration have been factored in because that has been their line against the President and this administration,” Panelo stated.
“They’ve already been rejected, but they can’t accept or seem to believe that no one believes them anymore,” he concluded.
With Kristina Maralit