Filipinos raise protests from the streets to higher grounds

Manila —The first impeachment complaint, a message for help to the United Nations and an expression of concern from the European Parliament – these, in one breath, confronted Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in mid-March that questioned his growing authoritarian government.

Filed a day before Congress adjourned for a seven-week break (the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives resume sessions May 2), the impeachment complaint was filed by opposition Congressman Gary Alejano who accused Duterte of concealing assets and conflicts of interest, betrayal of public trust, high crimes, abuse of power, drug-related extrajudicial killings and running an alleged death squad when he was mayor of Davao City.

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In the same stride, the European Parliament expressed “significant concerns” over the human rights situation in the Philippines during the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva as it called on the Philippine government over the “very high number” of deaths related to Duterte’s drug war.

The EU Parliament also urged the country not to revive capital punishment after majority of Congress voted to restore it, and also opposed to a bill that sought to lower the age of criminal liability from 15 years to nine years old.

A few days prior, Philippine Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo brought to the world’s attention the troubling drug war of Duterte that has resulted in more than 7,000 deaths in the bloody campaign in only the first eight months of his governance.

Robredo’s message was in a six-minute video shown last March 16 at the 60th UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs annual meeting in Vienna, Austria. “Our people feel both hopeless and helpless: a state of mind that we must all take seriously," Robredo said in the video in yet her strongest criticism against Duterte.

She described the deaths as "summary executions" and called attention to a police scheme of detaining innocent people, called “palit-ulo” or “exchange heads” where cops detain a relative of a drug suspect they could not find.