May 15, 2017 10:57 pm JST

Duterte impeachment attempt fails

Philippine congress finds complaint lacking 'substance'

MIKHAIL FLORES, Nikkei staff writer

Congressman Gary Alejano failed to gain sufficient parliamentary support for his impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte. © Reuters

MANILA -- Philippine lawmakers killed a bid on Monday to impeach President Rodrigo Duterte on the grounds that it lacked substance.

The parliamentary justice committee unanimously voted down the impeachment complaint on the grounds that it was based on "hearsay" evidence.

Gary Alejano, a representative from the right-wing Magdalo Party-list, made the complaint against Duterte in March, when it was widely expected to flounder.

At least a third of the 293-seat congress must endorse the complaint for it to proceed to trial in the senate, and Duterte enjoys an overwhelming majority in the lower house.

"The institutions, including the congress, [are] unwilling and unable to prosecute the president," Alejano told reporters on Monday.

Alejano accused Duterte of illegally amassing wealth, and of encouraging police and vigilantes to kill alleged drug users and peddlers without due process. Over 7,000 suspected drug offenders have been killed since Duterte came into office last year, according to human rights groups. More than half the extrajudicial killings have been carried out by unidentified gunmen on motorcycles.

Following the failure, there is a constitutionally-mandated one-year gap before another impeachment complaint can be filed. Duterte's opponents will therefore have to wait until 2018 before they can mount another attempt to bring him down legally.

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