PRESUMPTIVE president Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte may face an impeachment complaint once he assumes office on June 30, if he insists that the Philippines has lost the Scarborough Shoal located in the disputed West Philippine Sea, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said on Monday.
“For me, he is pre-empting [that the Philippines has lost the Scarborough Shoal]. But I hope not so because it is dangerous for a president to say that we have lost the island even it is still ours. He is just giving China the license to occupy the area,” Trillanes said in a press conference.
“If he did that, that’s an impeachable offense. Once he assumes office on June 30 and insists that we have lost Scarborough (Shoal), that’s already a basis for an impeachment complaint,” he added.
Trillanes made the statement after Duterte alleged that the Philippines has lost its territorial claim over Scarborough shoal after the former had “back-channel” meetings with China.
He downplayed Duterte’s accusation and said that his “only” mission during the back-channel talks was to “defuse the tension” between the Philippines and the China.
“We (Chinese officials and I) did not talk about sovereignty claims. I just did my mission – to deescalate the tension (between the China and the Philippines),” the senator said. “So that’s not the truth [when Duterte said that the Philippines has lost the Scarborough Shoal]; that’s a lie. It has no basis. Like I said, who told him that?”
Once Duterte assumes his presidency, it is apparent that the country will be completely turned over to him, including the occupied territories in the West Philippine Sea like the Scarborough Shoal, Trillanes said.
Trillanes said that as a presumptive president-elect, it is “very dangerous” for Duterte to say that the China was able to take over the Scarborough Shoal because it will “weaken” the Philippines’ claim over it.
The senator also noted that at the hearings he had conducted on October 20, 2013 and May 7, 2015, respectively, the country’s Defense and security officials guaranteed that the Philippines still owns the Scarborough Shoal.
“In the transcripts (of hearings held) on October 20, 2013 and May 7, 2014, I personally asked our Defense and security officials if the country has lost the Scarborough (Shoal). All of them said, ‘No, Scarborough is still ours and it is the subject of our arbitration complaint,” Trillanes said.
“The records would bare me out. Senior Defense officials have been placed on record, declaring that we have not lost Scarborough (Shoal). Do not take it from me, don’t take my word but take the word of all the security officials of the country,” he added.
Trillanes then advised Duterte to undergo briefing with the security officials about his back-channel meetings with officials of China.
“For now, while the picture is still not clear, let him wait to be briefed by our security officials. If he also wants me to brief him about the back-channel talks, I would do it to make it clear, for him to see the whole context,” the senator said.
Trillanes also expressed hoped that under Duterte administration, the dispute in the West Philippine Sea will be resolved. (Sunnex)