Constitution as ‘toilet paper’ is just another Duterte ‘metaphor’ – Palace
MANILA, Philippines — Another “metaphor.” This was how Malacañang has clarified President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement deeming the 1987 Constitution as mere “toilet paper.”
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing on Tuesday that the President did not mean to belittle the nation’s supreme law when he likened it to a piece of toilet paper, saying it was just a “metaphor” to illustrate how China will ignore it in relation to disputes over the West Philippine Sea.
Last week, Duterte said that the provision in the 1987 Constitution regarding the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is for the “senseless and thoughtless.” He also said that the country’s principal charter will only be a piece of “toilet paper” if he uses it to assert the Philippines’ rights over the West Philippine Sea because China will not recognize it.
“Pupunta ako sabihin ko get out, this is the Constitution. Sabihin sayo’ naubusan ka na ng toilet paper, gamitin mo ‘yan,” Duterte said.
For Panelo, such statement of Duterte was only intended to explain how China will never accept the 1987 Constitution’s provision stating that Filipinos should exclusively use and enjoy resources within the Philippines’ EEZ.
“What he means is that China will not listen to us saying that ‘but our Constitution says so.’ They will tell us, ‘So what? As far as we are concerned, we own this, that doesn’t matter to us’,” Panelo said.
“Iyon ang ibig sabihin ni Presidente; not literally na ipapakita mo iyong papel, hindi iyon ang ibig sabihin niyon. That’s a metaphor,” he added.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who has been championing the country’s resolve to take control of the West Philippine Sea, earlier said allowing Chinese fishermen to fish in the Philippines’ EEZ is unconstitutional.
He was reacting to a previous statement of Duterte that he would allow Chinese fishermen to trawl within the country’s EEZ out of friendship.
The issue on the use and preservation of resources within the Philippines’ EEZ heated up after a Chinese vessel rammed and sunk a Filipino fishing boat at Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea last June 9. Recto Bank is within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile EEZ, which guarantees the country’s sole rights to natural resources in the area.
Quoting the 1987 Constitution, Carpio said: “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its … exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”
READ: Carpio: Letting Chinese fish in EEZ violates Constitution
“The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens,” the provision likewise states. (Editor: Katherine G. Adraneda)
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