December 11, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

No support for any impeachment against President, VP, Liberal Party at House says

MEMBERS of the Liberal Party (LP) who belong to the House of Representatives will offer no support for any impeachment complaints against the country’s top two leaders, saying it is “divisive” and “polarizing.”

This was announced by Marikina City Rep. Romero Federico S. Quimbo (2nd district), who is also the Deputy Speaker of the House, making him the LP’s highest official in the chamber.

“We came to a common consensus on the following matters: we strongly believe that the taking up by the HOR (House of Representatives) of any impeachment complaint today will only be divisive as well as polarizing,” Mr. Quimbo said in a statement. Impeachment “will only serve to distract us from the many important matters that Congress should be giving priority to.”

He added: “For these very imperative reasons, the LP House majority caucus members present categorically took a position that we will not support any of the impeachment complaints filed against the leaders of the land.”

The statement was issued after the Liberal Party held a meeting on Thursday, which was attended by Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo and 15 LP congressmen, Mr. Quimbo said. The meeting was organized to discuss some administrative matters and tackled the impeachment raps, he added.

Of the current 32 LP members at the House, 27 belong to the so-called administration’s ”supermajority” while five opted to stay in the independent minority.

Last month, Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary C. Alejano lodged an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo R. Duterte for violation of the Constitution, bribery, betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption, and commission of other high crimes.

He later beefed up his complaint by filing a supplemental affidavit, accusing Mr. Duterte of taking a “defeatist stance” by doing nothing to challenge Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea.

For his part, House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez, an ally of the President, has threatened to file an impeachment rap against Ms. Robredo, in connection with the latter’s video message to the United Nations (UN) side session in Vienna, Austria last month, where she scored the administration’s bloody war against illegal drugs.

Similarly, lawyer Oliver Lozano has also filed an impeachment complaint against Ms. Robredo also in connection with the UN video but it has not been endorsed by any congressman.

Mr. Quimbo also said that they reiterated their support for Ms. Robredo, who is also the party’s interim chairman.

“We will have subsequent meetings before Congress opens in May to update LP members who were out of town and thus could not attend the meeting,” said Mr. Quimbo.

Meanwhile, in an ambush interview in Los Baños, Laguna, Ms. Robredo reiterated Mr. Quimbo’s sentiments.

“Majority of those who attended the meeting said that they weren’t supportive of any impeachment proceedings, whether against the President or myself,” Ms. Robredo told reporters in Filipino. “They feel that it will distract from the work in Congress and will cause polarization.”

Ms. Robredo also said that the LP members at the House belonging to the supermajority have no decision yet on whether to leave the administration coalition or not, but maintained that they would support the government.

“I feel that it’s a decision that they themselves should be making,” the Vice-President said. “But in previous discussions, they have promised to be supportive of the administration. That was the decision.” -- Raynan F. Javil