January 24, 2018, 1:49 am
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Alvarez told: Fortify majority in face of impeach case

POLITICS is addition.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez should reach out to administration allies who were removed from their posts for voting against the measure reviving the death penalty on drug-related heinous crimes, now that President Duterte is facing an impeachment complaint filed by Rep. Gary Alejano (PL, Magdalo).

This was the advice of Rep. Ruffy Biazon (PDP-Laban, Muntinlupa), a former ally of former President Benigno Aquino III, to the leader of the House of Representatives who has vowed to continue the revamp when the House resumes session on May 2.

“The healing process is the most advisable thing to do because this will consolidate our forces,” Biazon said after attending a weekly news forum at the Batasan Pambansa.

On the order of Alvarez, the House removed Rep. Gloria Arroyo (Lakas-CMD, Pampanga) as deputy speaker for Luzon before the session was adjourned Wednesday last week. Eleven committee chairmanships were also declared vacant, and only one has been filled.

Biazon admitted it is too early to say that the supermajority will be solid in dismissing the impeachment case against the President.

Alejano, in his 16-page complaint filed last Thursday, accused Duterte of culpable violation of the Constitution, bribery, betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption, and other high crimes, for, among others, employing ghost employees at the city hall, having undeclared bank accounts amounting to at least P2 billion, and organizing and maintained liquidation squads under the guise of anti-crime task forces, like the dreaded Davao death squad whose activities allegedly led to the execution of some 1,400 persons suspected to be drug pushers and addicts during his terms as mayor, vice mayor, and congressman of Davao City.

Alejano said he can back the allegations in the impeachment complaint with “testimonial and documentary evidence.” 

Biazon said Alvarez could use the Lenten break to mend fences and strengthen the supermajority bloc.

He said Alvarez could be doing this through House transportation panel’s 12-day nautical highway tour, led by Alvarez, from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao aimed at assessing the state of sea transport and situation of various ports in the countryside.

Biazon also said he could not blame Alvarez for his decision to strip allies of their posts, saying it showed he is capable of instilling discipline.

“I think the revamp has contributed to the party’s solidarity because the leadership has the political will to implement discipline,” he said.

President Duterte, in a press conference Sunday night in Myanmar, shrugged off criticisms and allegations, saying there is no cause for concern as long as critics do not engage in any form of violence.

He said these are just politics.

“In the matter of going after them, it has not reached that level of violence, destabilization. It’s more of publicity. And for as long as it is really a peaceful exercise of the freedom of speech and freedom of the press, there’s nothing I can do about it.
It’s guaranteed under the Constitution,” he said.

The President acknowledged the criticism against him and his campaign against illegal drugs, and reaffirmed his commitment to address the drug problem which he said threatens national security.

“We will continue until the last drug lord in the Philippines is killed and the pusher out of the streets. If I go to prison for that, so be it, it’s my destiny,” he said.

Duterte also mocked Alejano who has said he is considering including in his impeachment complaint the President’s alleged secret deals with China after Chinese survey ships were found in the Benham Rise area off the Philippines’ Pacific coast.

Duterte said he would be “glad” to send Alejano, a former soldier, to fight China’s forces in the disputed territorial waters in the South China Sea.

He slammed Alejano, a member of the Magdalo group which staged the “Oakwood mutiny” during Arroyo’s administration, for his role in the mutiny which ended in the Magdalo soldiers’ surrender. He said Alejano and his group had not done anything good for the country. He said the group is an embarrassment as Filipinos paid for their education at the Philippine Military Academy but they repaid it with a failed coup.

“If he (Alejano) wants to fight with China, he can lead. I would be glad to send him as the first batch of delegation of Filipinos who’d want to take the Spratly Islands and all of those they occupy now. Sige. Siya ang mauna (Go ahead. He can lead),” he said.

The President reiterated he is not ready to allow the Philippines to go to war with China as it would end in the slaughter of Filipinos.

Reports said China is planning to put up facilities at the Panatag Shoal.

The President said if such construction pushes through, it might result in some problems. He said the Asean should instead to come up with a code of conduct for claimants of the disputed waters as soon as possible. – With Jocelyn Montemayor
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