Sunday, March 19, 2017

BREAKING: Leni Robredo may face impeachment complaint while Electoral Fraud case is ongoing

MANILA, Philippines -  As the House leadership threatens Vice President Leni Robredo with impeachment, the late dictator’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. might take her place.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said that if Robredo is removed from office after impeachment in the House of Representatives and finding of guilt by the Senate, Marcos could claim the post.

But a resolution of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal favoring the protest filed by Marcos in the 2016 vice presidential race would be necessary even if Robredo is successfully removed from office.

“Under our law, it is the third highest official that shall immediately succeed the vacancy in the vice president post,” Aguirre explained to The STAR yesterday, referring to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III.

Aguirre cited the order of succession in the top elective posts under Article VII, Section 7 of the Constitution, where the Senate president is second in line of succession to the vice president.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who announced last week the plan to impeach Robredo, is the next in line, followed by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The Constitution, however, also gives the President the power to nominate a replacement for a vacant vice presidential post from among members of the Senate and House, subject to approval of a majority of Congress voting separately.

This was the case when former senator Teofisto Guingona Jr. was appointed vice president in 2001 when Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed the presidency after the EDSA 2 people power revolution ousted former president Joseph Estrada on plunder charges.

Aguirre opined that the immediate succession by Pimentel is without prejudice to the ruling of the PET in the pending protest of Marcos.

“If the PET rules later on in favor of the protest, then Bongbong will take over the post,” he added.

He also said that the possible removal from office of Robredo via impeachment is without prejudice or without effect to the PET protest of Marcos.

The PET case, however, is still in the preliminary stage nine months after it was filed by Marcos.

Earlier this month, Marcos asked the PET to now hear his election protest against Robredo and set the case for preliminary conference by dismissing the alleged dilatory pleadings of the Vice President.

Marcos filed the protest on June 29, 2016, claiming that the camp of Robredo cheated in the automated polls in May 2016. He sought annulment of about a million votes cast in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao.

Robredo filed her answer in August and sought the dismissal of the protest for lack of merit and jurisdiction of PET.   

Robredo won the vice presidential race with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos who got 14,155,344 votes. 

Duterte’s lawmakers back Leni impeachment

Asked for his opinion on the plan of Alvarez to initiate an impeachment complaint against Robredo, Aguirre said the burden would be on the accuser.

“She could be impeached if they could prove that her claim has no factual bases and it greatly damaged the country’s image and economy,” he suggested.

Solicitor General Jose Calida, for his part, has supported the impeachment plan against Robredo for betraying the government by slandering President Duterte and his administration before the United Nations commission on narcotic drugs.

Calida branded as a “treasonous act” the Vice President’s video message to the UN where she criticized President Duterte’s war on drugs and said that over 7,000 fell prey to extrajudicial killings of policemen and vigilantes.

Robredo’s video message, posted by the DRCNet Foundation on YouTube last March 13, was played at the “Human Rights Challenge: Responding to Extrajudicial Killings in the Drug War,” a side session for the 60th United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs annual meeting last March 16 at the Vienna International Center.

Calida said he agreed with Alvarez that Robredo “should be rightfully condemned for slandering and selling out our country and its leaders before the UN.”

He vowed to lend the legal services of his office as “tribune of the people” to help in the proposed impeachment of the Vice President, saying it is “unfortunate” that Robredo “will reap the people’s wrath and contempt.”

Alvarez announced his plan after linking Robredo to the impeachment complaint filed last Thursday by Rep. Gary Alejano of party-list group Magdalo against Duterte.

Robredo and Alejano denied this allegation.

The super majority coalition of Duterte’s allies in the House is expected to throw out Alejano’s complaint. But the coalition has the numbers to impeach Robredo.

Duterte’s allies also enjoy a majority in the Senate, which will try Robredo in case she is impeached by the House.

Alvarez believed that the Vice President might have betrayed public trust in her video message to the UN that destroyed the country before the international community.

Betrayal of public trust is one of the grounds under the Constitution for impeachment of an official, which law and political experts both consider as a numbers game.

Source: PhilStar


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