Philippines VP faces impeachment complaint for criticizing drugs war

MANILA (Reuters) - A lawyer for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos on Monday filed an impeachment complaint against Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo for her strong criticism of the administration’s bloody war on drugs.

Philippines' Vice President Leni Robredo speaks during a Reuters interview, at the Quezon City Reception House, Metro Manila, Philippines December 12, 2016. REUTERS/Ezra Acayan

The complaint for violation of the constitution and betrayal of public trust was sent by Oliver Lozano to the office of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a staunch ally of President Rodrigo Duterte. Alvarez had for several days been studying whether to file a complaint himself.

“She is the termite of the government,” Lozano said in a letter seeking endorsement for his six-page complaint.

Robredo, who is not a member of Duterte’s party and was elected in a separate contest, may have landed herself in trouble after issuing a strong rebuke of the popular president’s war on drugs in a video sent to the United Nations.Alvarez said that was “irresponsible”.

“This is the first time a high government official has sent a video clip maligning our country,” he said in a radio interview on Monday.

Robredo’s lawyer, Barry Gutierrez, was confident she had done no wrong. “Truth-telling can never be an impeachable offense,” he told reporters.

The complaint comes amid bitter squabbling between Duterte and his loyalists and the opposition Liberal Party and its allies, loosely along political lines going back to the time of the late president Ferdinand Marcos, who was ousted by a “People Power” uprising in 1986.

It was filed four days after lower house representative Gary Alejano filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte, accusing him of offences ranging from conflict of interest and assets concealment to drugs-related extrajudicial killings.

The complaints against Robredo and Duterte will not be handled by Congress until May at the earliest, as the legislature is in recess.

Congress is dominated by lawmakers who have sided with the president. Robredo’s Liberal Party is in the minority.

Duterte has denied wrongdoing and his allies say the impeachment motion against him would be soundly defeated.

A one-third vote in the 292-member lower house would impeach a high-level official, paving for a Senate trial in which a majority would be needed to remove him or her from office.

Duterte on Sunday welcomed the impeachment complaint, as well as the prospect of the International Criminal Court putting him on trial over his war on drugs, saying his campaign would be unrelenting and “brutal” and he would not be intimidated into ending it.

Editing by Martin Petty