Amid criticisms that President Rodrigo Duterte could be impeached for a statement allowing Chinese fishermen to trawl in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate pondered if such a statement could really translate into impeachment charges being leveled against the chief executive.
“It is easy to file an [impeachment], but will it rise to the level… kasi ang sinasabi sa Constitution ay culpable violation of the Constitution not just an ordinary violation,” Zarate said during a news forum in Quezon City on Saturday.
In a speech on Wednesday, Duterte said the Philippines cannot assert sovereignty over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and prohibit Chinese fishermen from exploring the territory because, he said, no country in the world has that right.
“Will the statement of the President rise to a level that he can be impeached? That remains to be seen,” the lawmaker said.
Former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert Del Rosario said that Duterte could be impeached for his failure to secure the Philippine territory.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Vice President Leni Robredo also said that allowing Chinese fishermen to stay in the country’s EEZ was unconstitutional.
Zarate noted that an impeachment is a political process and a “game of numbers.” Duterte currently enjoys a “super majority” in both chambers of the Congress.
The Makabayan solon, however, objected Duterte’s threat to jail his critics who mull filing an impeachment complaint for his controversial statements siding with China.
“I do not agree whether it is a joke or not yung sinabi ni President Duterte na file kayo ng impeachment pakukulong ko kayo. Nasa Constitution yan, if we want to hold officials accountable ay meron tayong process na dadaanan,” Zarate said.
The lawmaker urged the administration “to make a complete stand” in asserting the country’s territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea under the Constitution.
“[They] should make a complete stand… not say it’s (Constitution) a useless piece of paper,” he said.