SPEAKER Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez said yesterday the statement of President Rodrigo Duterte that he wanted Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales impeached should not be construed as pressure or marching order from the Chief Executive to the supermajority to impeach the head of the anti-graft body.
But Alvarez, secretary general of President Duterte’s Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), added that he will process the ouster petition against Morales as a matter of his ministerial duty if an impeachment complaint is filed against the Ombudsman.
“For me, I don’t consider it as pressure. In the first place I do not work for the President. I work for the Republic of the Philippines,” Alvarez told reporters as he invoked the separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislature.
“But once somebody files, we have no choice but to process it,” said Alvarez as he clarified that he is not preempting the possible filing of an impeachment complaint against Morales.
Alvarez said the remark of President Duterte about his desire to impeach Morales and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno should be treated as a mere statement of an ordinary citizen who has the right to lodge an ouster petition against any other impeachable official.
He also branded as the “most unfair statement” the allegation that the House of Representatives is allegedly being used by President Duterte to hit the administration’s political enemies.
“In the first place, it is a constitutional process. If it is a constitutional process, it is in accordance to the Constitution. Therefore, it is legal,” said Alvarez.
Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe and Isabela Rep. Rodolfo “Rodito” Albano III said President Duterte is entitled to file an impeachment complaint against Morales under the Constitution.
“Any citizen can file a complaint for impeachment,” said Batocabe, a lawyer and president of the Party List Coalition (PLC).
Like other impeachment complaints pending before the House committee on justice, Batocabe said lawmakers are mandated to look into these. “Should it be endorsed by a member of the House, we are duty bound to determine the sufficiency of form, then substance. Should it pass these tests, then the [House] committee on justice will hear the same just like any impeachment complaint which passed these tests,” said Batocabe.
For his part, Albano said “there’s no law barring anyone from filing an impeachment complaint, including the President.”
President Duterte hit Morales for pursuing the agency’s probe of the Chief Executive’s and his family’s bank transactions before he won the presidency.
He said the left and the “yellows” have joined forces to oust him from power.