MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV on Wednesday morning said there are already several grounds for an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte.
At the Kapihan sa Manila Bay press conference, Trillanes said the process of impeachment could start by May.
“Technically hindi ako, dapat sa House [of Representatives], baka Mayo siguro,” he said.
Verified complaints are submitted to the House, where impeachment proceedings begin. If the complaint is found sufficient by the House committee that it is referred to, it will go to voting in plenary.
Duterte's PDP-Laban party enjoys a supermajority coalition in the House, meaning it is unlikely that any impeachment complaint will prosper.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Wednesday dismissed Trillanes' claim, saying the senator is "hallucinating."
Panelo, with whom Trillanes has traded barbs in the past, said that "maybe that is his wishful thinking."
The senator said Duterte committed culpable violations of the 1987 Constitution, violation of due process in its provisions as well as human rights violations. He said this can be proven by the testimony of former SPO3 Arthur Lascañas, who claimed the president is involved in killings in Davao City through the Davao Death Squad.
Duterte, whom the Commission on Human Rights and Department of Justice had investigated in the past for supposed links to the death squad, had repeatedly denied involvement and has said the DDS does not exist. He said it was just an issue that his political opponents always bring up.
He said on Tuesday, however, that the DDS did exist and that it was formed during Martial Law to combat communist "sparrow units" (from Special Partisan Unit, SPARU) in Davao City.
Trillanes said Duterte is also liable for an estimated 8,000 lives lost in the past eight months and blamed on the government's war on drugs. He said the templates of the DDS killings are similar to the extrajudicial killings happening nationwide.
“I hope na with this, sa’kin maliawanag na – kumpleto na ‘yung corroborating evidence ng involvement ni President Duterte sa murder. Multiple murder ito,” Trillanes said.
“So crimes against humanity ito. Lahat ito ay impeachable offenses. Iyon ang gusto natin mangyari na matanggal siya through impeachment,” he added.
Trillanes said the possible grounds for impeachment are:
- violations of due process, human rights provision of the Constitution
- multiple murder when he was still a mayor of Davao City
- and supposed ill-gotten wealth that were undeclared in the president's Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth.
No numbers at House
Asked if he already has supporters or sponsorships at the lower House, where impeachment cases are supposed to be filed, Trillanes said there are none yet. However, he likened Duterte’s popularity at the House of Representatives to that of Joseph “Erap” Estrada, who was impeached in 2000 for bribery, corruption, betrayal of public trust and violation of the Constitution.
“Alam naman nila kung ga’no nila na-dodominate yung House. So sa akin kontrolado niya yung House, pero kagaya din naman ni Presidente Erap noong panahon na na-impeach siya pero titignan natin pag namulat yung mga tao at susunod naman yung mga Konggresista,” the senator said.
While he is still not yet sure of the numbers at the House of Representatives, Trillanes said he is confident the Senate is open to studying evidence against the president.
“Wala akong duda na makikita nila yung katotohanan at magdedesisyon sila base sa nakita nila,” he added.
Trillanes has been critical of Duterte even during his presidential campaign.
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