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Mere filing of impeachment won’t warrant arrest: Palace

MANILA -- The mere filing of impeachment cases against President Rodrigo Duterte does not warrant an arrest, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo made this clarification after Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde, said police would arrest those who will file impeachment complaints if “we see that they violate the law”.

“Mere filing (of an impeachment case) is not (basis for an arrest),” Panelo said when asked in an ambushed media interview if this move would warrant an arrest.

Panelo clarified that the PNP could only arrest those who violate the Constitution.

On Monday (July 1), Albayalde said an investigation will be conducted first before “you can make an arrest”.

Duterte earlier threatened to jail those who would file an impeachment case against him in relation to his verbal agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping that allows Chinese to fish within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone for long as China will allow Filipinos to fish in the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal during their first bilateral meeting in October 2016.

Panelo explained that the chief executive’s remark was only “an expression of displeasure and disappointment”.

“It is a righteous indignation. He could not understand why critics and detractors cannot appreciate what he is doing,” Panelo said.

Panelo said the President was frustrated by how his critics failed to see his intentions to protect Filipinos from possible armed conflict with China.

“He cannot visualize why he is doing this. He is doing this because he is following the directive of the Constitution to serve and protect the people. He wants to avoid armed conflict between the two countries because that will endanger the security of the nation,” he added.

Asked if Palace would remind the PNP not to take the President’s remark literally, Panelo said: “You don't have to remind them. They know their law.”

Azer Parrocha / PNA