A militant fisherfolk group has called on junior lawmakers to support their bid to impeach President Rodrigo Duterte, whom they accused of violating the Constitution with his alleged verbal deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping that supposedly allowed Chinese fishermen in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Violation of Constitution
Fernando Hicap, former Anakpawis party list representative and now Pamalakaya national chair, said his group would lead the filing of an impeachment complaint against the President when the 18th Congress convenes on July 22.
The complaint, he said, will be for the President’s violation of the Constitution, treason and betrayal of public trust by “compromising the West Philippine Sea and the rights of the Filipino fisherfolk to China.”
Pamalakaya said the alleged verbal deal violated Article 7, Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution, which states that no treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective, unless concurred by at least two-thirds of the Senate.
The administration’s failure to protect its waters, particularly the EEZ, was also in violation of the government’s duty as stated in Article 12, Section 2.
“This treasonous verbal agreement between Mr. Duterte and Xi has resulted to intensified harassment among the Filipino fishers, massive poaching within our fishing territory and environmental plunder and destruction of our resource-rich West Philippine Sea by China,” Hicap said.
“We call on the newly elected representatives in Congress to stand with the Filipino fisherfolk in upholding our sovereign and territorial rights and to hold President Duterte accountable.”
The votes of at least a third of the members of the House of Representatives are needed for an impeachment complaint to be endorsed to Senate. Under the 18th Congress, this translates to at least 101 lawmakers.
The President has threatened to jail anyone who would seek his ouster.
He has repeatedly defended his softened stance against Beijing’s aggression as his way to steer the country away from war, although Beijing has yet to categorically say if such conflict will indeed arise between the two nations.
Writ of kalikasan
Despite the threat, Hicap said they would proceed with the filing of the impeachment complaint to preserve the remaining resources in the West Philippine Sea amid the Duterte administration’s neglect to protect it.
Another group of Filipino fisherfolk had filed a petition for writ of kalikasan and writ of continuing mandamus before the Supreme Court, seeking protection for the country’s territorial waters while similarly accusing the administration of neglect.