MANILA, Philippines – ACT Teachers Representative France Castro clarified that the House leadership is not involved in discussing the possibility of filing impeachment complaints against Vice President Sara Duterte, saying it is just a “casual conversation” between legislators.
In a briefing on Friday, Castro explained that rumors of impeachment complaints launched against Duterte began with a statement last August calling out the vice president for having confidential funds (CF) in 2022 when they were not included in his original budget. cabinet.
Castro was referring to a briefing held on August 25 by the Makabayan bloc, where he said that “in relation to impeachment, of course, we will study all possibilities to hold them accountable,” as Duterte may have committed “misuse of public funds , poor technical skills and violation of the Constitution” when the CF was channeled to the Office of the Vice President (OVP).
TO READ: Legislator threatens Vice President Sara with impeachment charges; Veep responds: ‘Enjoy’
“We have been saying this for a long time, what we said in our statement in September and August about impeachment. As far as Makabayan is concerned, this is still premature and there is no citizen to file an impeachment complaint,” Castro said.
(We said this a long time ago. We made this statement about impeachment around September and August. As far as Makabayan is concerned, this is still premature and no citizen has filed an impeachment complaint.)
“Maybe there isn’t, they are just questions to see if it already exists. So those informal conversations with the parliamentarian, these are some of the things I heard in that conversation. But nothing serious, maybe the leadership is not involved in the impeachment, in the issue of this impeachment”, he added.
(There are no talks; they may only ask questions if a complaint is filed. These are informal conversations between members of Congress. That’s what I heard during the talks. But it’s nothing serious; the leadership is not involved in impeachment talks.)
When asked by reporters about her claims that she heard impeachment negotiations from party leaders, Castro said they were from other House members. However, she clarified that these informal talks did not result in a more serious measure.
“Maybe not, these are just our parliamentary colleagues who are talking there. But it’s also informal, so it doesn’t become serious. So that’s all, that’s all we have there. So he’s not serious, it’s just a casual conversation,” she said.
(That’s not the case. It’s just our fellow legislators who were talking about it. But those are informal discussions. They never thrived or became serious. That’s right. It’s not serious, it’s more of a casual discussion.)
“I don’t think it’s anything serious and no, no congressman or any of us have presented it or endorsed it. Firstly, no citizen has come forward yet,” she added.
(Nothing serious, and no congressman or any of us have introduced or endorsed it. No citizen has filed a complaint in the first place.)
Key House members such as ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Erwin Tulfo and Majority Leader Manuel José Dalipe on Thursday denied allegations that legislative chamber leaders began discussions about impeachment of Duterte. According to Tulfo, the vice president did not commit impeachable crimes to deserve such a measure.
“This morning, I reached out to leaders, including Cong. Zaldy [Co] and the President of the Chamber, to address the rumors circulating in Congress. However, there is no substance to these discussions; none of this was deliberated between party leaders or the House leadership,” Tulfo said.
There have been rumors that fissures have begun to emerge within Uniteam, or the campaign team of President Ferdinand Marcos and Vice President Duterte, who were running mates in the 2022 national elections.
The divide reportedly widened after the House, under the leadership of Marcos’ cousin, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, removed proposed CF allocations to the OVP and the Department of Education (DepEd) – two agencies under the command of Duterte.
OVP and DepEd requested a CF worth P500 million and P150 million, respectively, for 2024. After removing the CF from the OVP, DepEd and other civilian agencies, the House realigned them to offices involved in West Philippine Sea security.
After the CF requests from the OVP and DepEd were removed, supporters of the vice president, including none other than her father, former President Rodrigo Duterte, criticized the House.
According to the elder Duterte, the House is the most rotten government organization as it allegedly has a pork barrel being distributed to lawmakers. The Chamber denied this, with general secretary Reginald Velasco stressing that it was already prohibited to have pork barrels and that funds were only present for extraordinary expenses.