Alejano’s earlier motion against the president is still pending
A Philippines lawmaker filed supplementary charges yesterday to an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte, accusing him of taking a “defeatist stance” by doing nothing to challenge Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea.
Opposition congressman Gary Alejano said Duterte had made a slew of remarks that proved he had no intention to protect Philippine sovereignty and had alienated key allies like the United States through “rants and unstoppable outbursts”.
Alejano alleged that Duterte had “kowtowed and all but capitulated to China’s designs and ambitions” in the South China Sea, where Beijing has been reclaiming territory and building structures.
“Duterte has permitted China to trample upon our country’s rights and interests, and those of our people, apparently because he is afraid to offend his Chinese friends and/or because he has already made secret deals with them,” he said in a supplemental complaint.
Alejano alleged that Duterte’s actions threatened the security and territorial integrity of the Philippines, representing betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the constitution.
“The president has taken a defeatist stance and openly signalled China to go ahead with whatever it intends to do in the West Philippine Sea,” he told a press conference.
On March 16, Alejano filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte for alleged abuses and extrajudicial killings under the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs, which has left thousands dead.
The complaint — the first to be filed against Duterte since he took office in June — also alleged that the 72-year-old president failed to declare some of his properties.
It is not likely to pass the House of Representatives, where Duterte’s allies have vowed to block the case at the justice committee, which will determine if it is sufficient in form and substance.
The complaint adds to a laundry list of what Alejano says are impeachable offences that amount to high crimes, abuse of power and betrayal of public trust.
He submitted the initial complaint just as Congress went into a recess, a move aimed at keeping it in the public spotlight and preventing Congress from dismissing it right away. It reconvenes on May 2.
Duterte is frequently accused of abuse of power, though none of the allegations have so far stuck.
The populist former city mayor commands a legislative majority and enjoys huge public support.
Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Alejano’s additional complaint was groundless propaganda and part of a coordinated conspiracy by Duterte’s opponents.
Alejano said Duterte had failed to act on a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration last year that invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim to most of the South China Sea, its justification for building man-made islands in Manila’s exclusive economic zone.
He said Duterte’s recent comments that he could do nothing to stop China if it were to build structures at the disputed Scarborough Shoal indicated his unwillingness to defend the country’s rights.
The criticism comes as Duterte intensifies his charm offensive to encourage China to invest billions of dollars in the Philippines, including its flagging infrastructure, an approach that contrasts sharply with his open hostility towards the United States.
He last week railed against Washington for allowing China to construct and arm its artificial islands, but placed no blame on Beijing.
On Wednesday Duterte said he had asked the US ambassador to Manila “why did you not send the armada?”.
A US think-tank on Monday said China had finished building military infrastructure on those islands and was now capable of deploying combat planes there.
l Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday described two major media outlets as “*********” and warned them of karmic repercussions for their critical coverage of his deadly drug war.
Duterte’s verbal attacks on top television broadcaster ABS-CBN and the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper came in a pair of speeches in which he also lashed out at the European Union for criticising him over alleged human rights abuses.
“I’m not threatening them but someday their karma will catch up with them,” Duterte said of the two media outlets.
“They’re shameless, those journalists.”
Duterte named the Prieto and Lopez families that own the Inquirer and ABS-CBN respectively, calling them “oligarchs” who use the media to promote their chosen political candidates.
“That is what ails the Philippine society: it is the corrupt media, the face of Prieto and Lopez and their money and the church,” he said.
He also threatened to use the government TV station to shame those two families.
“I will give you your due also. I will go through your lives and those of your children,” on government television, he said.
Duterte easily won presidential elections last year after vowing to eradicate illegal drugs in society by killing tens of thousands of people.
Since taking office in June, police have reported killing at least 2,564 people in drug raids while more than 4,200 others have been killed in unexplained circumstances, according to official figures.
Rights groups have warned he may be overseeing a crime against humanity, while the European Parliament has been among other extremely critical foreign institutions.
Duterte frequently responds to criticism with foul-mouthed defiance.
He also abused then US president Barack Obama last year.
Many Filipinos support Duterte’s drug war, believing he is making society safer.
But rights groups say many people are also too afraid to speak out, citing his fiery rhetoric and various alleged intimidation tactics.
Last year, Duterte made comments widely interpreted as justifying the murders of some journalists.
“Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination,” he said.
He has also described Jun Pala, a journalist who was murdered in the southern city of Davao in 2003 when Duterte was mayor there, as “rotten”.
Pala’s murder has never been solved but in recent weeks, a former police aide of Duterte said the then-mayor ordered the killing.
In a statement late yesterday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer said it took “exception” to his accusation that it was unfair in its coverage.
“Since its founding in 1985 the Inquirer has upheld the highest standards of excellence in journalism,” the statement said.
“Even as we’ve courageously pursued the truth in our coverage, we’ve endeavoured to get the administration’s side on any controversy.”
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines issued a statement saying: “Mr.
Duterte, your mouth is getting the better of you!”
“Your incoherent and foul mouthed rant against two of the country’s major media outfits — the Philippine Daily Inquirer and ABS-CBN — was not only unwarranted, it was absolutely twisted,” the statement said.
There was “no such thing” as man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea, China’s Defence Ministry said yesterday, and reiterated that any building work was mainly for civilian purposes.
China, which claims most of the resource-rich region, has carried out land reclamation and construction on several islands in the Spratly archipelago.
The building has included airports, harbours and other facilities, involving in some cases the dumping of massive amounts of sand to build up land on what were reefs or structures that may only have been exposed at low tide.
But ministry spokesman Wu Qian implied that was perhaps a misunderstanding, though he said there was construction work which China had every right to do as the Spratlys were inherent Chinese territory.
“There is no such thing as man-made islands,” Wu told a regular monthly news briefing. “Most of the building is for civilian purposes, including necessary defensive facilities.”
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