The long-awaited bid to impeach Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has finally been made. And it’s been launched amid a coordinated offensive to denigrate the president both at home and on the international stage. The usual players are involved – and as usual they’re hiding behind the usual con – that they’re doing it for the good of the country.
They want the people to believe they’re doing it out of altruism. It’s a high-minded act that solely has the people’s best interests at heart. And if Filipinos truly believe all that they deserve Vice President Leni Robredo (photo) as their next president and all the chaos that will ensue from that.
Those behind this bid are seeking to wire the nation’s emotions; cold impartial analysis must be resisted. This is a Philippine drama and the ‘coup plotters’ – let’s call them what they really are – know that an emotional drama will always play well in this country. TV soaps here have the highest ratings of all programming by some considerable margin.
Ayatollah Robredo’s wish to overthrow the state is no different to what Khomeini (photo) pulled off in Iran in 1979. But where he used religious fervour in his revolution, she along with ‘co-conspirators’ Ayatollah Leila De Lima, the senator now remanded in police custody on drugs-profiteering charges, and Ayatollah-Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, use melodrama. For them, after all, that’s what politics is about. It’s what keeps them in the public eye; without it as politicians they’d be lost; insignificant. Loud voices and theatre is what they bring to government and to Congress. And it’s what they’re using now to try to remove Duterte.
So let’s look where this impeachment writ is coming from. Was it inspired by the body of the legislature? From the major parties? No, it came from one of the tiniest; in fact, the single party-list representative of Samaháng Magdalo, a narrowly focused nationalist group whose voice would normally go unheard in the 293-seat House of Representatives.
But now, thanks to its one House member, Magadalo’s founding president, Gary Cajolo Alejano, it will have its five minutes of fame – posturing as a humble David setting himself against a bruising Goliath. That’s the sort of drama that will go over well here.
The appropriately named Cajolo who seeks to cajole the public to his cause – protesting that neither he nor his party has any plans to oust the president through any illegal means – is a former marine captain who, along with Trillanes, took part in the botched Oakwood Mutiny in 2003. This was an attempted quasi-coup by around 300 junior officers of the Philippine armed forces which took over Manila’s Oakwood Premier Hotel in yet another drama, staged for the press and the public. In fact, up until this impeachment play, it was Magadalo’s sole claim to fame. So possibly it needed another curtain raiser to re-establish its existence.
In its 16-page impeachment complaint issued to the House’s secretary-general, Alejano isn’t taking any chances. He’s calling for impeachment on five separate grounds and might add a sixth. He’s spreading his bets across the table in the hope that the little white ball will end up in one of the slots of his political roulette wheel.
Culpable violation of the Constitution, engaging in bribery, betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption, other high crimes and possibly later, treason – surely one of those will produce a winner, Alejano hopes. Surely enough members of the House – he needs one third – will buy at least one of them.
Now let’s look at how this impeachment bid was engineered. Timing is its essence. With Congress due to start its Lenten break next week, there won’t be time for the House Judiciary Committee to convene to determine whether the charges filed against Duterte are sufficient to warrant a Congressional hearing.
Thus, the risk of having their hopes dashed by the committee has been removed. That hurdle’s been removed. With one third of House members’ signatures, the complaint would automatically be fast-tracked to the Senate. Alejano and Trillanes didn’t just come up with that ploy; the former government of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino used it to have former Supreme Court Chief Justice, the late Renato Corona, impeached.
The House resumes its session on 2 May and will run until 3 June. The second session will commence on 24 July. This means that impeachment-complaint architects have time between now and then to garner the support they need.
Meanwhile, as all that’s going on, Vice President and Liberal Party chairman, Robredo – the woman who rejoices in working against the government from within the government – has also been busy. On Thursday, attendees to 60th annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, held in Vienna, were entreated to a six-minute video which Robredo had specially prepared for the event.
In it she set about completely undermining Duterte’s War on Drugs – the usual thing, extrajudicial killings, human rights violations. Careful not to directly accuse him, it was heavy on innuendo and enticed the audience to draw the obvious conclusion – that the Philippines is in the hands of a madman and he needs to be stopped.
It was a treacly message that sought to curry favour by flattering the video’s hosts. “We are heartened that the issue of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines today is being discussed in an event such as this. To know that the international community’s eyes are on us and to feel that human-rights advocates are watching over our country gives us comfort, courage and hope,” she said.
Describing drug abuse as a “complex public health issue,” she said it was a problem that could not be solved “with bullets alone”. She made no reference to the president’s programme for every province to build at least one drug rehab, nor to the millions of dollars the government is pouring into counselling and retraining initiatives. This video wasn’t aimed at bringing the UN up to speed with what was happening in those areas of the War on Drugs, it was a political party broadcast on behalf of the Liberal Party to denounce Duterte.
One thing she did get right in that video was that drug abuse is “linked intimately with poverty and social equality” – two areas where the previous Liberal Party administration failed the people. Indeed, it was that failure that largely guaranteed Duterte’s presidency. And yet, she went on to say that she had called on Duterte to focus on the war on poverty – “a war that really matters”. Really? Now it matters?
“In a public statement, we asked him [Duterte] to direct the nation toward respect for rule of law, instead of blatant disregard for it. We ask him to uphold basic human rights enshrined in our Constitution, instead of encouraging its abuse. We asked him to be the leader he promised to be, and evoke in our people hope and inspiration, instead of fear. We told him: Do not allow the lies to distort the truth”.
End of video message.
On top of that, one day earlier, she’d provided the anti-Duterte Time magazine with a written interview – ‘Democracy Demands Dissent’: Philippine Vice President Condemns Duterte’s Drug War in Q&A With TIME – which was nothing more than an undisguised stage purely to allow her to push her anti-Duterte message.
It was just more of the same but one line that stood out for us was this. “Despite the ongoing culture of fear and death in our country, there are still leaders and people in our country who refuse to give up the fight for the rights of our countrymen”. No prizes for guessing who those “leaders” are she has in mind.
Meanwhile again, as the UN delegates in Vienna were digesting all that along with the canapés and chilled wine, eight hours away by limousine in Strasbourg, the European Parliament was condemning the extrajudicial killings they’d heard so much about in the Philippines and issued a resolution to the Philippine Government directing that they should be investigated and that those responsible be prosecuted.
It also called for De Lima’s immediate release, describing her as a “human-rights advocate and the highest profile critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign” and pressed the government to “drop all politically motivated charges against her and to end any further acts of harassment against her”. The charges, it claimed, “are almost entirely fabricated” – though it neglects to share with us how it knows that.
But the resolution went further. It threatened the Philippine Government that the country’s trade with the European Union could suffer “in the absence of any substantive improvements in the next few months”. It was urging the European Commission to consider removing GSP+ status for the Philippines – under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences this gives Philippine exports tariff-free entry to the European Union (EU).
If you look at an early definition of the word impeach, it means to impede, to hinder, to prevent – something the Liberal Party-led anti-Duterte coalition has been doing since it received the shock news last May that Duterte was their president.
That EU resolution, that video-appearance of Robredo at a UN meeting and that impeachment writ are all based on the say-so of the Liberal Party and its allies. Similarly, in the case of De Lima, it’s these self-same bodies that have decided – no need for evidence; no need for a court trial – that her arrest is purely politically motivated. In other words, as far as the EU and the UN are concerned she has no charge to answer. She’s innocent.
And why wouldn’t they believe that; they only listen to the likes of Robredo, De Lima, Trillanes, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch etc, which are all in cahoots to remove Duterte. With the exception of Trillanes, these are all part of the progressive Left elite. Trillanes who is way to the right of them has thrown in his lot with them in a symbiotic relationship because they share a common enemy – Duterte. If anybody should be impeached, it’s this triumvirate – for sedition.
So all this is an orchestrated attempt to bring excessive international force on the legitimate government of the Philippines, in a bid to replace it with an unelected one. The Liberal Party, for some reason, believes it is the sole heir to power in this country and its determined to reinstate itself against the people’s will.
If that ever happens though, that’s the end of democracy in the Philippines. That’s the dawn of a true banana republic. Under the Supreme Council of the ayatollahs, oligarchs will flourish yet again; corruption will be given a new lease of life. And meanwhile, shored up by the likes of the EU and the UN, the Philippines – which under Duterte had one shot at becoming its own country – will revert to being just a puppet of the West.