The Cable

Duterte’s Boasts of Killing People Could Get Him Impeached, Senators Say

"Go ahead and impeach him."


It turns out that admitting you’ve personally killed suspected drug users has consequences — especially if you’re president.

On Thursday, two Philippine senators said that President Rodrigo’s Duterte Monday admission that he himself had killed suspected criminals during his time as mayor of Davao is grounds for impeachment.

“That is betrayal of public trust and that constitutes high crimes because mass murders certainly fall into the category of high crimes. And high crimes is a ground for impeachment under the constitution,” said Senator Leila de Lima, a fierce Duterte critic (and Foreign Policy Global Thinker).

Senator Richard Gordon agreed. “When he says that, he’s opening himself up, so what’s the legal way, then go ahead and impeach him.”

Easier said than done, though. Under Philippine law, a two-thirds vote in the Senate is required to impeach the president, and per Reuters, the opposition holds fewer than 50 of the 293 seats in the lower house of Congress. (In the Philippines, a member of the House of Representatives can file a verified complaint for impeachment, which needs at least a one-third vote to go a trial in the senate, and two-thirds of senators must then vote for impeachment.)

Still, impeachment is all the rage these days. South Korean President Geun-hye Park just got axed by her nation’s lawmakers due to a corruption scandal. And Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was impeached this summer for allegations of corruption, too. Even in the United States, some lawmakers are warily eyeing obscure clauses of the U.S. constitution as a way to rein in possible excesses by President Donald Trump.

But Duterte, given his strong congressional backing, will probably dodge the bullet this time — unlike the thousands of suspected drug dealers and users who’ve been summarily executed on his watch.

Photo credit: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images

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