No impeachment raps against President Rodrigo Duterte will prosper, the Palace said Friday and advised Duterte’s critics to “conduct a reality check to avoid embarrassment.”
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo downplayed the impending impeachment case against the Chief Executive, calling it “misplaced” and “absolutely baseless.”
“As a friendly advice, we suggest that these people first conduct a reality check to avoid embarrassment,” Panelo said.
He made the statement even as Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday expressed dismay over a Philippine Coast Guard report assigning blame to the Filipino fishermen who were abandoned in the waters off Recto Bank after their boat was rammed by a Chinese vessel.
“Tayo na nga ang binangga, hindi tinulungan at iniwanang halos mamatay sa gitna ng dagat ng isang dayuhang sasakyan na dapat ay wala sa ating teritoryo, tapos tayo pa ang may sala?” Hontiveros said in a statement.
She said by placing the blame on the Filipino fishermen, the report ignored the fact that the Chinese hit an anchored and stationary Filipino fishing boat and left its 22 fishermen to fend for themselves at sea.
“This report seems like it was made in China,” Hontiveros said.
Panelo’s statement was in response to a group of fishermen that marched from Morayta to Mendiola on Friday morning as a show of force in its plan to file an impeachment complaint against Duterte for supposedly allowing Chinese fishermen within the country’s EEZ.
The group Pamalakaya cited treason and violation of the 1987 Constitution as grounds for impeachment.
Fernando Hicap, the national chairman of Pamalakaya, said Duterte had put the rights of Filipino fishermen in danger when he entered into a verbal deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
He was referring to the supposed deal made in 2016 allowing Chinese within the country’s 200-nautical mile EEZ in exchange for the safety of Filipino fishermen in the Panatag Shoal, a contested territory in the West Philippine Sea.
“There can be no culpable violation of the Constitution, or any impeachable offense for that matter, when the President is precisely enforcing that very same instrument while honoring our country’s constitutional obligation of observing amity with our neighboring states in conformity with our treaties and international conventions, as well as customary international law,” Panelo said in a statement.
“An impeachment, however, not only is misplaced; it is absolutely baseless in fact and in law.”
Malacañang has repeatedly said that Duterte entered into the deal because of his duty to “protect” the welfare and safety of Filipinos.
“The Palace is therefore confident that no impeachment complaint against PRRD will prosper,” Panelo said.
The supposed deal between Duterte and Xi, which the Palace described as “legally binding,” was revealed to the public after the June 9 Recto Bank incident between a Chinese trawler and a Filipino boat.
Hicap said the deal between the two leaders was in violation of the 1987 Charter that says the EEZ should be reserved and enjoyed exclusively by Filipinos.
The Makabayan bloc in Congress will sponsor the impeachment complaint, Hicap said.
Maritime experts and critics, among them former top diplomat Albert del Rosario and Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, have previously raised the possibility of impeachment and urged Duterte to assert our sovereignty in the country’s territory.
Meanwhile, the Palace has repeatedly shunned the impeachment threats, saying Duterte holds the “supermajority” in Congress.