Fishers group vows to file impeachment case vs Duterte

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DESPITE President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s threat to jail anyone who files an impeachment case against him, fishermen’s group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday vowed to pursue his impeachment for “treason and violating the Constitution” for allowing Chinese nationals to exploit marine resources in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The group trooped to Mendiola in Manila on Friday to call for the impeachment of Mr. Duterte.

In a statement, Pamalakaya National Chairperson Fernando L. Hicap said: “[Mr.] Duterte is culpable of treason and violating the constitution for allowing China to exploit our marine territory which is exclusive for the Filipino people. His questionable deals with China also violate the fishing rights of our fishermen in the West Philippine Sea. The longer he stays in power, the longer our fishers will suffer and fish stocks will be jeopardized.”

Mr. Duterte had earlier warned his critics that they would be arrested should they move to impeach him over his approach to West Philippine Sea issues.

The fisherfolk group said it is “unperturbed” by the President’s threat. “With the violations in the constitution that the President has committed, he is the one that should be jailed,” it noted.

Mr. Hicap, who was a former representative of the Anakpawis Party-list, further said: “[Mr.] Duterte is mistaken if he thinks that his jail threat will silence and stop us from pursuing his impeachment; he is the one that should be jailed in the first place over the multiple crimes he has committed against the Filipino people and the constitution.”

He stressed that the West Philippine Sea “is ours and ours alone.”

“We vow to protect what is rightfully ours whatever it takes; and this includes removing the puppet commander in chief in power who is the primary culprit behind the complete takeover of our sovereignty by China,” he added.

Sought for comment, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo released a statement saying that “any Filipino citizen can file an impeachment case against a sitting President. The Office of the President can not and will not dissuade those individuals and groups, including left-leaning ones, to initiate such an action before the Congress, as the same is recognized by our Constitution.”

He noted however that an impeachment “not only is misplaced, it is absolutely baseless in fact and in law,” saying the President has been loyal to his oath under the Constitution.

The Palace, he said, “is therefore confident that no impeachment complaint against PRRD would prosper. As a friendly advice, we suggest that these people first conduct a reality check to avoid embarrassment.” — Arjay L. Balinbin