Chinese incursions may be part of supplemental impeachment complaint
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said on Saturday his lawyers were looking at filing a supplemental complaint to boost the impeachment case he earlier filed against President Rodrigo Duterte, to possibly include China’s planned infrastructure buildup on Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal and its recent incursion on Benham Rise.
Alejano said that their legal team was already studying the pronouncements made by Mr. Duterte regarding Chinese actions on the territories since the Cabinet appears to be “at a loss” to explain them to the public.
Recent events showed that there was “confusion” as to the government’s foreign policy direction and its relationship with China, whose bilateral relationship with Manila is currently on the mend amid the territorial dispute.
“If he has nothing to hide, it should be properly communicated to his team, to his Cabinet and to the Filipino people. He cannot just keep [agreements] to himself. He has to inform everybody,” Alejano told reporters.
Then Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay in February said that the country has been assured by China that it had no plans to set up structures on Panatag.
But a recent Hainan Daily report quoted Sansha Communist Party Secretary Xiao Jie as saying that preparations were under way for Beijing to put an environmental monitoring station on the shoal, which is just 200 kilometers off the coast of Zambales province, well within Manila’s exclusive economic zone.
Mr. Duterte has sought to allay public fears last week by saying that a Chinese survey ship spotted by the Navy on Benham Rise recently had prior invitation to conduct research on the 13-million-hectare underwater landmass off the coast of Isabela and Aurora provinces.
His statement caught the defense and foreign departments by surprise.
“If we will not assert ourselves now, then we cannot assert ourselves in the future,” Alejano said.
Waste of time
But election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said unseating President Duterte at this time was an “impossible dream” and called the 16-page impeachment complaint filed by Aejano at the Duterte-controlled House a “waste of time.”
“The move to impeach and remove him from office is, at this time, an impossible dream. It will never happen and will not even reach the first base,” Macalintal said in a statement.
Alejano filed the complaint on Thursday, claiming that Mr. Duterte was responsible for the deaths of 8,000 drug offenders, of amassing some P2.2 billion in unexplained wealth and of committing other high crimes.
Macalintal said that at least a third of the 292 lawmakers or 97 votes were needed to decide whether the case should go ahead. But with 260 representatives supporting the President, only 42 solons are left to support the impeachment moves.
“With the tremendous support the President gets from the House leadership and his steady high approval and trust ratings, his impeachment and removal from office is a long shot and is not likely to prosper. It is just a waste of time,” Macalintal stressed. —WITH A REPORT FROM JULIE M. AURELIO