by Ben Rosario, Ina Malipot, and Ellson Quismorio
Liberal Party (LP) congressmen allied with the majority bloc in the House of Representatives have agreed to reject the impeachment complaints filed separately against President Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo.
Led by Deputy Majority Leader and Marikina City Rep. Miro Quimbo, the group of 15 LP congressmen has already relayed this decision to Robredo, the highest elected government official of the party.
Quimbo made this revelation as LP solons belonging to the opposition bloc appeared strongly supportive of the Duterte impeachment complaint filed by Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano.
Alejano belongs to the so-called “Magnificent Seven,” a second opposition force in the Lower House that is headed by veteran LP Reps. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao and Edcel Lagman of Albay.
A separate impeachment complaint was filed against Robredo by lawyer Oliver Lozano, a former legal counsel of the Marcos family.
Quimbo disclosed that his group met Robredo in the past two days, a meeting confirmed by the Vice President and Baguilat.
“We came to a common consensus on the following matters: We strongly believe that the taking up by the House of Representatives of any impeachment complaint today will only be divisive as well as polarizing,” revealed Quimbo.
In an interview at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños in Laguna, Robredo said the meeting with LP members took place last April 20.
“During the first part [of the meeting], administrative matters [were discussed],” Robredo said in a mix of English and Filipino. “But we also talked about impeachment by asking the opinion of attendees on the matter,” she added.
Robredo, however, noted that there are many members who failed to attend the meeting. She said that those who were there did not express support to any impeachment proceedings – whether against Duterte or herself.
The Marikina City lawmaker said the LP lawmakers were united in viewing the impeachment against Duterte as serving merely to “distract us from the many important matters that Congress should be giving priority to.”
“For these very imperative reasons, the LP House majority caucus members present categorically took a position that we will not support any of the impeachment complaints filed against the leaders of the land,” he stated.
During the same meeting with Robredo, LP congressmen expressed their unequivocal support for the Vice President, who is also facing an electoral protest filed by vice-presidential rival, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Robredo said another meeting will take place to give way to those who failed to attend the first gathering.
“We will have subsequent meetings before Congress opens in May to update LP members who were out of town and thus could not attend the meeting,” Quimbo added.
Of the 32 LP solons in the Lower Chamber, 27 have aligned themselves with the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban)-led supermajority bloc.
Duterte, who won the May, 2016 presidential race via landslide, sits as PDP-Laban chairman. Some 200 lawmakers are under the multi-party administration coalition.
As of now, only five members of the LP, Baguilat included, are with the Magnificent Seven.
The Ifugao solon has made no bones about his wish for more of his partymates to fortify the opposition, given the questionable policies of the Duterte administration.
“Personally, I hope that we will have more LP members joining the minority to strengthen the voice of the fiscalizers in Congress.”
He has said that they should rally behind Robredo, who had earlier this year took on a more critical role on administration.
There have also been reports that the LP in the supermajority are being treated as “second-class citizens” in the coalition.