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Public service denouncement

When governance takes a backseat because the power struggle is real

By the looks of it, the unrelenting power struggle between the administration and the opposition will the see the Philippines’ two highest public officials facing impeachment complaints – an incredible accomplishment for an administration less than 10 months into its term.

In the highly unlikely case that you missed it, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano filed an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte for alleged betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the Constitution, engaging in bribery, graft and corruption, and other high crimes.

In response, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he is looking into filing an impeachment complaint of his own against Vice President Leni Robredo for betrayal of public trust, stemming from a video message she released to the United Nations where she said that Filipinos are feeling “hopeless and helpless” with the spate of killings brought about by the administration’s drug war.

Now, while having both the President and Vice President facing impeachment complaints may be a first for the country, politicking with complete disregard for the nation’s welfare, unfortunately, is not. And while vested interests and political ambitions have long been at the forefront of supposed “public officials,” this administration appears to have brought with it an unabashed thirst to quell any sort of opposition.

The new year has seen a string of events that’s been brazenly designed to gag all checks and balances. Which begs the question, how far is the administration willing to go in their apparent desire for complete control?

Destabilizing factor

The circus began to crescendo with Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s successful motion to strip Liberal Party Senators of their committee chairmanships. Then came what was called the House purge – the House majority coalition’s removal of committee chairpersons that voted against the measure to revive the death penalty from their posts.

As noted by a Philippine Star op-ed piece, Senate minority members then tried and failed to retaliate by holding a series of hearings and inquiries on the murder of Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo; the Bureau of Immigration bribery issue; and the testimony of self-confessed Davao Death Squad member and retired Senior Police Officer 3 Arthur Lascañas.

As pointed out by the op-ed piece titled “Unbelievable,” the Congress has taken it upon itself to act as a detective bureau – often with utterly questionable sources, while the Senate – apart from turning into a badly written made for TV drama, has been akin to a criminal court, albeit inundated with partisan opinions and a cast of characters far too obsessed with grandstanding.

State of wrest

It doesn’t take mutant vision to see what the squabbling political camps want. The Liberal Party – comprised mainly of former President Benigno Aquino’s allies are desperate to regain any semblance of control, preferably (although improbably) with the ouster of Duterte.

The President’s allies, meanwhile, apart from controlling both chambers of the legislative department hope to eliminate from the picture the opposition’s highest official.

Here’s the clincher – should the Vice President be impeached, the President has the power to “choose,” by way of nomination, who the second highest executive official of the nation will be. The nominee will then be subject to confirmation by a majority vote of all members of both Houses of Congress—both of which are clearly under the administration’s control.

During a speech in front of the Filipino community in Beijing last year, Duterte introduced Sen. Bongbong Marcos as “the next Vice President.” As a note, Robredo beat Marcos in the vice presidential race by just over 200,000 votes.

Should there be another vote to decide the vice presidency, it’s unlikely it will be that close.