VICE PRESIDENT Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo won’t call on 27 Liberal Party (LP) lawmakers in the House of Representatives to leave the pro-Duterte Super Majority coalition.
Robredo made the statement a day after LP lawmakers met with Robredo, the interim LP chairman in her capacity as the highest elected LP official.
At least 27 LP members in the House have remained with the Super Majority coalition led by President Rodrigo Duterte’s PDP-Laban party, even if LP members in the Senate have shifted to the minority.
LP senators were kicked out of the Senate majority in February after Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao motioned for their ouster from their respective committee chairmanships for supposedly undermining the Duterte aadministration.
“On whether to stay or leave [the administration coalition]is their decision to make. But in our previous talks, there are those who are supportive of the administration and there are those who are otherwise and have joined the minority. That stance has remained,” Robredo told reporters.
15 LPs reject ‘impeach’ efforts
Robredo also said she was assured by at least 15 LP lawmakers that they would have her back amid efforts by Duterte allies to have her impeached.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte had threatened to file an impeachment complaint against Robredo over her scathing criticism of the Duterte administration’s anti-drug war that has left thousands dead in the last nine months.
An impeachment complaint has already been filed against President Rodrigo Duterte by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano over the rampant killings and the President’s alleged failure to assert the country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea. Alejano also accused Duterte of hiding P2 billion in secret bank accounts.
“Majority of those who were there were saying that they were not supportive of impeachment proceedings, whether it is against the President or myself. They feel that it will just hamper the work in Congress and that it will be very divisive. That’s the prevailing sentiment,” Robredo said.
“They also said that they agreed…it is apparent that they will protect me. But that it wasn’t a formal pact because only around 15 were able to attend because others are still on vacation. We will meet again when more members are available,” Robredo added.
The vice president clarified that the 15 did not include the five LP lawmakers who belong to the minority bloc in the House of Representatives led by Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay. Aside from Lagman, the bloc includes Edgar Erice of Caloocan City, Emmanuel Billones of Capiz, Teodoro Baguilat of Ifugao and Raul Daza of Northern Samar, all Robredo supporters.
“The members of the House minority were not there, and I think there will be a separate meeting for them,” Robredo said.
In a separate statement, Deputy Speaker Romero Quimbo of Marikina, an LP official, echoed the vice president’s sentiments.
“I confirm that around 15 LP members belonging to the majority caucus in the House of Representatives met with the vice president on April 20. A number of administrative-party matters were discussed, and we eventually discussed the issue of impeachment. We reiterated our strongest commitment of support to the vice president, our party leader,” Quimbo said.
“We strongly believe that the taking up by the House of any impeachment complaint today will only be divisive as well as polarizing. It (impeachment) will only serve to distract us from the many important matters that Congress should be giving priority to,” Quimbo added.