Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Partylist Rep. Jericho Nograles revealed on May 2, Tuesday, that he did not endorse the impeachment complaint against Vice President Leni Robredo, adding that his name was included in the draft complaint without his consent.
His name was floated as one of the lawmakers who are in talks with the people behind the Impeach Leni Movement, but he denied it.
“There is a group of people who want me to endorse something I have not read. And for me, that is improper at best,” Nograles told the media on Tuesday.
The movement is composed of lawyers, bloggers, and a government official. As per the law, any Filipino citizen may file for the impeachment of a public official, but only with the endorsement of a lawmaker.
Lawyer Bruce Rivera, the movement’s spokesperson, said that a male solon asked them to furnish a copy of the complaint to his office so he may review it. The same lawmaker told the group to distribute copies to other solons who could endorse the complaint. Rivera, however, refused to name the lawmaker.
Nograles denied that he was the legislator Rivera was referring to.
“That would not be me. Whoever that lawmaker is, it surely is not me. I saw the front page of that said complaint bearing my name and the names of other individuals who I do not know,” said Nograles.
“I do not know these people. I have not met them. I have not shook their hands. Even when I asked them, ‘Magkakilala ba tayo? Have we ever met? Have we ever spoken to each other?’ Ang sagot nila hindi,” he added.
Nograles was referring to Rivera and his fellow lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles, also a part of the Impeach Leni Movement, as the lawyers who left a copy of what turned out to be a draft complaint in his office on Tuesday.
“Ganito kakapal. Ang nakasulat pangalan nila through Representative Jericho Nograles PBA Party-list vs. Leni Robredo,” Nograless described the document.
The PBA representative even showed the media the front page of the draft impeachment complaint.
The complainant section reads: “Rose Beatrix Cruz-Angeles, Antonio Contreras, Epimaco Densing III, G Ahmed G Paglinawan, Bruce Rivera, Tomas Berenguer, Through Rep Jericho Nograles, PBA Partylist.”
— Mara Cepeda (@maracepeda) May 2, 2017
Nograles said he returned the draft to Angeles and Rivera.
“Binalik ko sa kanila. Anong gagawin ko diyan? ‘Di ko trabaho iyan. Kung pinagkamalan ako na Karlo, bakit Jericho nakasulat?” the lawmaker said.
His brother, Karlo Nograles, is also a solon representing Davao City.
He added that he asked the lawyers to leave his office immediately.
“They want me to endorse the complaint. When presented with the complaint, I was surprised to see my name… And [I said] ‘I did not give you any authority to use my name. I do not know why you are presenting this to me and I said I’d like you to leave because you are using my name without my consent,” Nograles said.
Rivera later told Rappler that the confusion over Nograles’ name’s inclusion in the draft complaint was due to a “misunderstanding.” He added that he was not referring to Nograles either as the lawmaker that his group is talking to.
“Ang ano kasi diyan, we were initially asked to talk to several congressmen. Ngayon, ‘di naman namin alam sino mag-e-endorse so gumawa kami ng draft letters,” said Rivera.
Rivera also said that his group informed Nograles’ camp that they would be furnishing him a copy of the complaint for him to review.
“Draft lang ‘yan. If we were informed about it, we will not include his name kasi marami naman kaming nakausap,” he added.
Political science professor Antonio Contreras, another member of the Impeach Leni group, told GMA News Online via a text message that the PBA party-list rep “sent feelers that he would be interested to endorse” the complaint but only after reviewing it.
“To save time, we included his name already, but in the event he declined to endorse as what happened, we had a cover letter prepared addressed to the Speaker. We just deleted his name,” Contreras added.
The lawyers’ move in including Nograles’ name without asking for his permission first may subject them to disbarment, said the solon.
“I find it highly irregular for attorneys-at-law to use my name over a document they prepared without my consent. It can be misrepresentation. I would have to study that, [but] for the moment, I have already informed the Office of the Secretary-General that I have not endorsed any impeachment complaint against the Vice President,” Nograles said.
Filing did not push through
The Impeach Leni Movement’s plan to file the impeachment complaint on Tuesday did not push through because not one lawmaker showed up for the required endorsement.
Rivera said that the group understands how legislators circumspect about making the endorsement.
“Here is the deal. When we were already forming it, they already reached out and said that we continue it because that was what they also wanted-that they wanted to endorse. It’s just that of course, we have to be, in more ways than one, we have to understand that they have to be a little circumspect about it,” the lawyer said.
The group said the impeachment complaint against Robredo accused her of culpable violations of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and graft and corruption.