I AM talking of course about President Rodrigo Duterte who finds himself at the eye of an impeachment storm brought about by his critics.
The call to impeach him came after a Filipino fishing boat was sunk by a Chinese ship in Recto Bank (Reed Bank), leaving the fishermen helplessly adrift at sea despite their cry for help. The bank is within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Political critics of the President took the cudgels for the ill-fated fishermen who had been clamoring then, and more so now, for the Duterte administration to assert the exclusivity of the Philippine EEZ, but which Duterte ignored, saying instead that being friends with China he will continue allowing it to fish in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Unbeknownst to many, this was in apparent reference to a fishing deal made by Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping where they agreed, as early as 2016, that Chinese fishermen would no longer block Filipino fishermen from Scarborough Shoal as long as the Chinese would have access to Recto Bank.
Presumably, and although this agreement was not formally documented, it also meant that violation of the accord could have grieve consequences more detrimental to our nation and people, especially knowing that China has also a claim of practically the whole of South China Sea, of which the WPS is part. The irony of it all is that no Western democratic power in the world has forcefully tried to stop China’s expansionism. This is not to mention the ominous military presence of China in our own backyard, so to speak. What makes it even more ominous is that China has done its mighty presence with impunity in defiance to laws, norms, propriety and decency.
“Will you allow the Chinese to fish? Of course. That’s what we talked about before, that’s why we talked. And that was why we were allowed to fish again. It was a mutual agreement,” Duterte said at a speech in Malacañang.
Duterte very well knows whereof he speaks, yet the political critics of Duterte are trying to ride on Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s grievance against Duterte’s seemingly lenient policy towards China by citing Section 2, Article 12 of the Constitution that says: “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its...exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”
Many were dismayed and, in fact, floated the idea of impeachment when Duterte said that the provision cited by Carpio was “for the thoughtless and the senseless” as he claimed that he was protecting the Filipino people.
“That piece of paper, the Constitution, would become meaningless with no spirit except desperation, agony and suffering. Kasi pagpunta mo roon how do you drive them away?” the President argued.
Indeed, how and with what would you drive away the Chinese fishing vessels that are guarded by superior Chinese militias?
July 05, 2019
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