September 14, 2017 8:07 pm JST

Philippine business group alarmed by impeachment complaints

Makati Business Club warns of serious economic consequences

CLIFF VENZON, Nikkei staff writer

An impeachment attempt against Philippine 'President Rodrigo Duterte failed in May. © Reuters

MANILA -- A prominent Philippine business group expressed alarm over a flurry of impeachment complaints in the country, warning they could sideline legislative reforms and erode investor confidence.

"We are deeply concerned over the unprecedented number of impeachment complaints lodged against high-ranking officials from the President, the Supreme Court Chief Justice, the Ombudsman and the COMELEC (Commission on Elections)," the Makati Business Club said in a statement on Thursday.

President Rodrigo Duterte weathered an impeachment attempt earlier this year after the country's congress -- controlled by his allies -- dismissed the complaint.

But a congressional committee on Wednesday found that an impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is "sufficient in form and substance," advancing a bid to oust the head of the judiciary.

Sereno, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and Commission on Elections chair Andres Bautista were appointed by former President Benigno Aquino. Their tenures are guaranteed under the constitution. Vice-President Leni Robredo, who is not allied with Duterte, has also been threatened with impeachment.

The MBC said these complaints could threaten political stability and lead to serious economic repercussions.

"We worry that these would divert the attention of Congress away from addressing the heavy legislative agenda which, in turn, will have an unfavorable impact to the attainment of the government's ten-point socioeconomic agenda," the group said.

"Undoubtedly, impeachment cases will also negatively affect investors' perception [of] the economic and political stability of our country."

The group said impeachment is part of the democratic process, but should not be used as a tool to silence the opposition.

"We believe that the impeachment process engraved in the Constitution must not be invoked arbitrarily to persecute and silence individuals with opposing views, nor to undermine independent institutions, the bulwark of our nation's democracy," it said.

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