BY ADRIAN STEWART CO
MANILA – Magdalo party-list representative Gary Alejano on Thursday filed a supplemental impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte for allowing the continued Chinese encroachment in the country’s territorial waters.
Duterte committed betrayal of public trust when he failed to assert the country’s exclusive sovereign rights and territorial claims on Benham Rise and West Philippines Sea (South China Sea), respectively, said Alejano.
Alejano said the President failed to deliver a “solemn campaign promise” during a presidential debate that he will ride a jet ski to the nearest disputed island at West Philippine Sea and plant a Philippine flag there.
He also said Duterte failed to protect and raise issue over reports that China is planning to build an environmental monitoring station at the Scarborough or Panatag shoal, both being claimed by the Philippines and China.
Duterte also failed to assert the United Nations tribunal ruling that the Philippines has the claim to resources at the West Philippine Sea and act on China’s continuing militarization of the dispute area, said Alejano.
The congressman, a native of Negros Occidental, further claimed the President did not act when China sent survey ships to Benham Rise, which is part of the Philippine continental shelf.
“Duterte has permitted China to trample upon our country’s rights and interests, and those of our people, apparently because he is afraid to offend his Chinese friends and/or because he has already made secret deals with them, to the grave and utter prejudice of our nation,” said Alejano.
“While Duterte is not expected to declare war against China, the President and commander-in-chief is duty-bound, at the very least, to vigorously assert and insist that China respect the exclusive sovereign rights and/or maritime and territorial claims of the country through
diplomatic and peaceful means,” he added.
Duterte already said he is willing to share resources in the disputed sea with China.
In a previous impeachment complaint filed before the Office of the Secretary General at the House of Representatives, Alejano said Duterte committed culpable violation of the Constitution, bribery, betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption, and other high crimes.
Among those Alejano cited as Duterte’s violations were extrajudicial killings hounding the administration’s war on drugs, killings by the so-called Davao Death Squad, the 11,000 ghost employees in Davao, and unexplained wealth.
For an impeachment complaint to prosper, the committee membership first has to decide whether it is sufficient in form and substance before sending it to the plenary for voting.
If the complaint is deemed to have sufficient form and substance, it will be voted on at the plenary. A vote from one-third of all members is needed to transmit the complaint to the Senate for trial.
With support from majority of 292 House representatives, the President is expected to easily hurdle the impeachment complaint, the first since his assumption into office nine months ago./PN