De Lima: Is it ‘wishful thinking’ to impeach Duterte under ‘controlled’ Congress?
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s “treasonous” statement that the Chinese could fish in the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) because the two countries are “friends” could be grounds for impeachment, Sen. Leila de Lima said Thursday.
De Lima however said she is unsure if the impeachment complaint would prosper in the upcoming 18th Congress.
In a dispatch from Camp Crame where she is being detained, the opposition senator said Duterte’s remark on allowing China to fish within the country’s EEZ “palpably shows a pattern of an open and brazen disregard of the rule of law and betrayal of the national interest.”
She cited Article 12, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution which reserves the EEZ “exclusively” for the “use and enjoyment” of Filipino citizens.
“We have here clear grounds for impeachment: culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, and betrayal of public trust. But is it mere wishful thinking to expect the Duterte-controlled 18th Congress to act seriously, and favorably, on any impeachment complaint versus this treasonous President? Who knows! Hope springs eternal,” De Lima said.
The senator also wondered if the Chief Executive “even care to read and understand the Constitution” or if he “ever read the July 12, 2016 Ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and even the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) itself.”
“His behavior and statements relative to the WPS issue, deemed as policy statements, are simply repugnant to the above core documents,” she said.
The President, when asked if the Philippine government would prevent Chinese fishers from venturing into Philippine territorial waters, earlier said: “I don’t think China would do that [stop fishing in Philippine territory]. Why? Because we’re friends.”
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said it could not be considered treason because it was “allowed under international laws.”
Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio had debunked this pointing out that the 1987 Constitution states that: “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its… exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”
“The Philippines has exclusive sovereign right to exploit all the fish, oil, gas and other mineral resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone. This sovereign right belongs to the Filipino people, and no government official can waive this sovereign right of the Filipino people without their consent,” Carprio asserted. (Editor: Mike U. Frialde)
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