Critics calling for Duterte impeachment threatened with jail time 

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, June 27 threatened to jail his critics after challenging them to file an impeachment complaint against him for allowing China to fish in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.

“Impeachable? I will jail them all. Go ahead and try, I mean to do it, and I will do it. I will tell our soldiers that I will send them there and what about their families. And then all of them will die?’ he said.

Duterte’s statement was in response to critics saying he committed an impeachable offense for breaching the Constitution that mandates him to defend the country’s territory. 

“The Constitution states that the president and the military must secure the national territory, and the national territory includes the exclusive economic zone,” former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a television interview. “To violate that is really a basis for impeachment, he can be impeached.”

According to Article XII Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution, the government “shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.” 

However, Duterte said the provision is “for the thoughtless and the senseless.”

“The protection of our economic rights about the economic zone resolves this? I am protecting the country and 110 million Filipinos. You know, it’s like this. China is like the Filipino, you can’t shame it. China will lose it and will give it to us, really give it to us. That’s the way it goes,” he explained.

The president also said that banning China from fishing in the disputed waters would only result in war.

“When you go there, how do you drive them away? These fools want to shame me. When I go there, I will tell the commander to leave. He will tell me who am I to order him? You want to fight? Remember that the missiles there, those on the islands could reach Manila in seven minutes,” he said.

The president called out Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, a staunch advocate of Manila’s rights in the West Philippine Sea, to give him a solution to the issue.

“Now I’m telling you, tell me what I will tell Xi Jinping who already told me that there would be trouble. That’s why answer me Justice, give me the formula and I will do it,” he said.

“We both have sparklers. Both China and the Philippines. But at the tip of those sparklers is an atomic bomb. Our warhead is the sparkler. Our is just for feasting not for war,” Duterte added.

He also explained why he agreed with Xi to allow China to fish in the Philippine EEZ after Filipino fishermen were granted access to Scarborough Shoal by Beijing.

“We do not need to give or disallow China because in the mind of China and everybody else down to the last soldier and citizen, China is theirs, that’s why they took it,” he said.

“The answer of Xi Jinping, in whisper, ‘You know, Mayor Duterte, we just restored our friendship. It was not good for the number of years. Let us not talk about it.’ He said, ‘Let’s talk about helping each other, create commerce. I want my oil because that is ours there,’” Duterte added.

Malacañang, likewise, dared Duterte’s critics to file an impeachment complaint despite Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo maintaining that Duterte’s statement that China could fish in Philippine waters was not a ground for impeachment.

“You know,  under the Constitution, there are provisions on impeachment. If they believe that what the President did was impeachable, then they should file an impeachment complaint,” said Panelo during a press briefing on Thursday.

“But you cannot stop the President from doing steps that, to his mind, is the correct way to obey the constitutional command to protect and to serve the Filipino people,” he added.

Panelo also clarified Duterte’s statement, saying he was misinterpreted by ‘everyone.’

“It appears that what the president meant was China would not allow their nationals from fishing in our EEZ since they treat us as their friends, knowing that permitting their fishermen to fish in our EEZ would only result in an unwanted hostility leading to an armed confrontation,” Panelo said.

“He (Duterte) further elaborated on that issue. He explained that his first visit to China resulted in a modus vivendi where China, which claims ownership of Reed (Recto) Bank by virtue of historical right, would allow our fishermen to catch fish there, a place declared to be within our EEZ,” he added.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

The Filipino-American Community Newspaper. Your News. Your Community. Your Journal. Since 1991.

Copyright © 1991-2024 Asian Journal Media Group.
All Rights Reserved.