President Rodrigo Duterte fired back at Senator Leila De Lima's threat of impeachment after he controversially defended the cops linked in the Espinosa slay.
In an interview with Duterte during the inauguration of the Bicol International Airport, Duterte dared De Lima to impeach him.
"They can go ahead. Bakit pa mas maraming daldal? Sige na, impeach na... Hayaan mo sila. Sige impeachable, go ahead," he proclaimed.
The President defended the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), saying he believes in the innocence of the Eastern Visayas Team despite the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that claimed Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa's death was a rubout.
According to De Lima, Duterte’s statement made him impeachable due to his "betrayal of public trust."
Unsurprisingly taking the side of Duterte, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvado Panelo claimed it was part of the President's duty to protect PNP members.
"Why should it be an impeachable offense? Is it even an offense? It is a duty being done by president?" He asked.
"The duty of the President is to protect the members of the PNP who are enforcing the law, his instructions." He added. Where he based his claims on was not cited.
"The NBI results show that the NBI does not interfere with any government agency doing their work, eh di sana iba ang resulta. But it doesn't mean NBI is correct, because the courts have to decide whether they are correct or not," Panelo claimed, despite the glaring evidence presented against his position.
"The presumption of innocence applies to all criminals in this case. Moreover, the assumption of regularity has yet to be overcome, it is the duty of the President to provide and help his people to defend himself," he added.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II also expressed his agreement with Panelo, saying there was nothing wrong with the President’s statements since he was merely expressing his opinion, despite the facts revealed by the findings of the NBI.
"The President did nothing wrong. He merely exercised his freedom of expression to render an opinion (on the Espinosa case)," said Aguirre.
Furthermore, Aguirre took a swing at De Lima saying her threats are baseless.
"'Yan ang mahirap sa mga abugadong nag-aabugaduhan. It's just an opinion (of the President)."
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