|President Rodrigo Duterte appeals to town mayors to support his anti-narcotics campaign during a meeting in Manila of March 14. (Photo by Simeon Celi Jr.)|
At least two Catholic bishops have welcomed the filing of an impeachment motion against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for allegedly masterminding the killing of up to 8,000 suspected drug offenders.
"This is a good move because it signals the seriousness of the situation of human rights violations in our country," said Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon.
The prelate said the so-called extrajudicial killings over the past eight months had made the Philippines "notorious throughout the world."
On March 15, the European Parliament issued a resolution condemning Duterte’s "war on drugs" that has resulted in the killings of suspected drug users and dealers.
The resolution urged the European Union to support the establishment of an independent international investigation into the killings in the Philippines.
Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of Marbel in the southern Philippines, however, said that despite the statements against Duterte, the impeachment motion was doomed to fail.
The prelate described the attempt to remove the president as "a good try."
Bishop Bastes agreed, saying that the impeachment move was a "political action" that would not succeed in Congress, which is dominated by Duterte’s allies.
He said, however, that some legislators "are very concerned with the strange behavior and stubborn attitude of our president."
"[The president] thinks that killing his countrymen is the only way to keep peace in our nation," said Bishop Bastes.
Congressman Gary Alejano, a former Marine captain, lodged the impeachment motion against Duterte for allegedly orchestrating the drug-related killings and for supposed acts of graft and corruption.
In a 16-page complaint, Alejano accused the president of "culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption, and other high crimes."
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez belittled the complaint, saying it was "baseless and unfounded."
"All charges are fabricated, they seem to believe their own lies," said Alvarez. "I am very, very confident that it will not prosper," he added.
The presidential palace said in a statement that the motion is part of a "larger scheme" to discredit the Duterte administration.
The Philippine Constitution states that the president or other government officials "may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust."
The impeachment complaint is based on allegations of illegal acts supposedly committed by President Duterte even when he was mayor of Davao City in the southern Philippines.
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