(Eagle News) – “He can go ahead. He’s free to do it. This is a democracy.”
This was how President Rodrigo Duterte reacted to questions on the threat of Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano to bring to the International Criminal Court (ICC) his impeachment complaint against him, after it had been junked by majority of the House committee on Justice for “insufficiency in substance.”
“Look, I was investigated by the Human Rights (commission) when Delilah (senator Leila de Lima) was stil the chairman. I was investigated again when she was the justice secretary, Then I was investigated again by the Senate, and then I was again investigated by the House,” he said in exasperation when asked about the impeachment move at the Davao International Airport around 3 a.m. Tuesday, shortly after his arrival from official visits in Cambodia and China.
“Ano pa ba ng gusto nila? (What more do they want?)” Duterte said. “Some guys are being taken for a ride a thousand times over.”
The President said that there were indeed casualties in the government’s war on drugs, but it was not true that there were indiscriminate killings.
“Ano ba namang giyera ang walang napatay? (Is there a war where there are no casualties?” he said. “But not in the character and kind being dished out (in media).”
Alejano has admitted that he has no personal knowledge as to the allegations he had claimed in his impeachment complaint. This included the claim that in Duterte’s war on drugs more than 8,000 people had been killed, and that the President himself had killed more than 1,400 people when he was still the Davao City mayor.
His complaint also included Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s allegations that the President had unexplained bank deposits.
The House committee on Justice led by Rep. Reynaldo Umali described his complaint as containing nothing more than mere hearsay.
House Majority Leader Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Farinas also said his hearsay allegations could even be considered as “quadruple hearsay.” Some allegations — including alleged witness testimonies contained mentioned by Senator Trillanes — were rumors claimed as facts by other people who never witnessed these.
Farinas said Alejano even attached newspaper reports from Rappler, Inquirer, and “The Guardian” as evidence. Some of the reports were also based on the Senate testimonies of confessed hitman Edgar Matobato and retired police officer, Arturo Lascanas.
The Senate had already dismissed their testimonies as lacking in credibility after the Senate inquiries, since they were also unable to provide material evidence.
Farinas said all these newspaper reports, Internet reports, and rumors of what Alejano had heard, cannot be considered evidence by law.
It was multiple hearsay twice over, worse than a quadruple bypass, he said.
“Kayo po ang tumatayong complaint, pero wala po kayong kaalam-alam dito,” Farinas chided Alejano on Monday during the House deliberations.
“Maski isa walang authentic records dito. Delikado po kayo dito sa perjury,” he warned Alejano.
“In the meantime, propaganda na po ang nangyayari dito,” he said.
“Itong ginagawa na po ninyo, you will be subjected to an ethics case here,” he added.
The House justice committee initially wanted to declare the complaint as insufficient in form after the admission from Alejano that he had no personal knowledge of his claim — despite taking an oath to the contrary.
But the House leaders decided to accept it as sufficient in form, after ruling from a motion from another lawmaker, Rep. Henry Oaminal. He asked the committee to reconsider Alejano’s complaint as sufficient in form despite this major defect on the verification process, “out of liberality.”
They then overwhelmingly voted that the complaint was “insufficient in substance” after a three-hour executive session. The House leaders warned that they would not entertain anymore defective and frivolous impeachment complaints where the complainant has no personal knowledge of his claims.
The junking of Alejano’s impeachment complaint effectively ruled out any other impeachment move against President Duterte for another year.