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Monday, May 15, 2017

Philippines Kills Impeachment Complaint Against Rodrigo Duterte

By FELIPE VILLAMOR MAY 15, 2017


Clarita Alia, with photos of her four sons who were said to have been killed on suspicion of drug use, in the Philippine city of Davao, where Rodrigo Duterte served as mayor before his election as president.CreditJes Aznar/Getty Images 


MANILA — Lawmakers in the Philippines on Monday threw out an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte that accused him of orchestrating the mass murder of thousands of people in his crackdown on drug use.

The Justice Committee of the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Duterte backers, reviewed the complaint and declared it insufficient.

The majority leader, Rudy Fariñas, said that Congressman Gary Alejano, who initiated the complaint, had no “personal knowledge” of the allegations, which he said were taken largely from news reports of the killings.

Mr. Alejano said the action to stop the complaint showed the government’s unwillingness to act. Since Mr. Duterte became president in June, more than 4,000 people have been killed by the police in antidrug operations or by vigilantes in drug-related cases, according to police statistics.

“Institutions are just unwilling and are unable to prosecute the president,” Mr. Alejano said in an interview. “What is the people’s recourse? Where will you complain? We will look for other ways to seek justice.”

The decision to kill the complaint bars until March any new impeachment case against Mr. Duterte.

The move comes after a complaint was filed against Mr. Duterte at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Last month a Filipino lawyer for two men who say they were paid assassins for Mr. Duterte when he was mayor of Davao City asked the court to charge Mr. Duterte and 11 other Philippine officials with mass murder and crimes against humanity.

Mr. Alejano said he and his advisers were considering joining the case at The Hague. The court takes cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes when a nation’s judicial system is unable or unwilling to investigate or prosecute them.

Romel Bagares, a human rights lawyer at the Center for International Law in Manila, said the House’s decision “shouldn’t really be a surprise” given that a majority of the 292-member House supports the president.

“It shows that the Duterte center still holds,” Mr. Bagares said. “But it does raise the question: Is this development proof there can’t be any accountability for alleged wrongs in the Philippines?”

Mr. Alejano filed the impeachment complaint in March, accusing Mr. Duterte of orchestrating the mass murder of thousands of drug users and dealers.

Mr. Alejano, a former Marine captain, accused Mr. Duterte of bribery, murder and crimes against humanity. He said that Mr. Duterte had also encouraged police officers to kill as part of his antidrug campaign.

Mr. Duterte welcomed the dismissal of the complaint, according to his spokesman, Ernesto Abella.

“We maintained that it was from rehashed, trumped-up charges aimed at undermining the duly constituted government,” Mr. Abella said in a statement.

“The president respects a coequal branch of government and does not interfere in the political exercise,” he said, apparently distancing the president from suggestions that he controls the House.

The president of the Senate, Aquilino Pimentel III, said that the upper house of Congress respected Monday’s decision.

He also called on the public to respect the decision by the committee, which said the complaint “is not worth our time.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/15/world/asia/rodrigo-duterte-philippines-impeachment.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0

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