PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is not afraid of being impeached over his supposed reluctance to protect the Philippines' exclusive economic zone from China because an impeachment proceeding is a numbers game, Malacañang said on Friday, June 28.
"No, definitely, [Duterte is not scared]. How can a President be scared with impeachment?" Presidential Spokesperson Salvador said in a chance interview.
"He was incensed because he cannot understand why these people who are against his policies cannot understand and even visualize that what he is doing is for the good of the country. Papakamatay na nga 'yung mama, hindi pa nila ma-appreciate, kaya siya inis na inis (He's even willing to die, but they can't appreciate it. That's why he's piqued)," he added.
Besides, Panelo said an impeachment complaint would not prosper in both Houses of Congress, where Duterte's allies comprise the "super-majority".
"An impeachment is a numbers game. Eh super majority nga 'yung sa Kongreso. Baka sa Committee of Justice, wala na kaagad 'yan (Super Majority dominates the House of Representatives. The impeachment complaint will likely be junked by the House committee of justice)," Panelo said.
"'Yung members of Congress, marami na akong nakausap. Alam nila 'yung ginagawa ni Presidente. Hanga nga sila eh (I have talked to some members of Congress. They know what the President is doing. They even admire him)," he added.
A day earlier, Duterte threatened to put his critics behind bars if they attempt to file an impeachment case against him.
Panelo was confident that the President cannot be removed from office through impeachment because his stance on China's fishing activities in the disputed sea is not a violation of the 1987 Constitution.
"Of course, it (planned impeachment) will not [prosper]. Unang-una, nakalagay doon (First and foremost, he can be impeached due to] culpable violation. How can he even be violating [the Constitution]?" Duterte's spokesperson said.
"He's even going beyond the provision. The provision says you protect the mineral, the maritime. Ang ginagawa niya nga, as he says it, 'Ano ba kayo, hindi lang nga 'yun ang pino-proteksyunan ko, 'yung buong Pilipinas nga eh, kasi hindi natin magagamit 'yung gusto ninyong i-protect ko kung wala na tayong lahat.' 'Yun ang punto niya," he added.
(He's even going beyond the provision. The provision says you protect the mineral, the maritime. What he's doing is, as he says it, 'I am not just protecting the Philippine waters but the entire Philippines because we cannot use the resources you want me to protect if we are all gone.)
The issue stemmed from an allision between a Filipino fishing boat and a Chinese trawler near Recto Bank, which is within the Philippines' EEZ.
The Chinese ship rammed and sunk the Filipino boat, which was anchored near the Recto Bank. Instead of rescuing the 22 Filipinos onboard the boat, the Chinese fled the area.
The Filipinos were rescued by Vietnamese fishermen.
Duterte has downplayed the allision as a "little maritime incident".
His critics have warned that he may be impeached for his failure to fulfill his constitutional mandate to defend the Philippines' EEZ from Chinese fishermen.
Panelo, however, believed there was nothing wrong with the President's response to the Recto Bank incident.
"Malakas ang loob ng Presidente, because alam niya na tama ang ginagawa niya and constitutionally feasible (The President is brave enough because he knows what he is doing is right and constitutionally feasible)," he said. (SunStar Philippines)