Duterte faces additional impeachment rap over China ties

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 30 2017 10:33 AM | Updated as of Mar 30 2017 01:10 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte gestures while answering questions during a news conference upon arrival from a trip to Myanmar and Thailand, March 23, 2017. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

MANILA - (UPDATED) President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday faced a supplemental impeachment complaint over his foreign policy and dealings with China over disputed waters.

The complaint was filed by Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano, who sought to impeach Duterte earlier this month over killings linked to his war on drugs and allegations he kept secret bank accounts.

"He utterly failed and/or refused to assert the country's exclusive sovereign rights and maritime rights and territorial claims over Benham Rise and Panatag Shoal and the rest of the West Philippine Sea," Alejano said.

"The President has taken a defeatist stance and openly signaled China to go ahead with whatever it intends to do in the West Philippine Sea," he added.

 

Alejano said Duterte set aside a tribunal ruling that junked China's expansive claims to the contested sea, had stopped joint maritime patrols with the US, and made strong overtures towards China and Russia.

Duterte's actions, he said, amounted to betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of Constitution and dereliction of duty.

The lawmaker also alleged that the President had set aside national interest in exchange for economic privileges from China, including the lifting of restrictions on fruit exports from the Philippines.

"Walang kapalit ang ating national security at national interest. Hindi matutumbasan ng saging o pinya ang ating national security o sovereignty at territorial integrity," the former Marine captain said.

(You cannot put a price on national security and national interest. No amount of bananas or pineapples can compensate for national security or territorial integrity.)

Manila and Beijing are wrangling over reefs and outcrops in the South China Sea. An international tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines last year but Duterte refused to flaunt the ruling as he sought to rebuild ties with China.

Chinese ships reportedly sailed in the area of Benham Rise, an undersea plateau off the Philippines Pacific Coast for three months from November last year. Duterte said China advised him of the trip "way ahead."

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has said the impeachment would not prosper, as the House of Representatives is dominated by the President's allies.

Malacanang dismissed the impeachment as part of an alleged destabilization plot.