‘Duterte may face impeachment over Scarborough claim’

Marvin Sy - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV yesterday warned incoming president Rodrigo Duterte that he could face impeachment if he continues to claim that the Philippines has lost Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal to China.

Speaking at a press conference held at his office, Trillanes said the people around Duterte should advise him about the country’s maritime claims, from the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea to Panatag Shoal.

Trillanes said Duterte could at this time be pardoned for issuing those statements because he has not yet assumed the presidency.

However, he said that repeating the same statement after he assumes office on June 30 could make him liable for an impeachable offense.

In his previous interviews, Duterte said it was unacceptable that the Philippines lost control over Panatag Shoal, which he blamed on Trillanes.

Duterte cited the backchannel talks with China initiated by Trillanes in 2012, which he said resulted in the Philippines losing the shoal.

The camp of Duterte has filed treason charges against President Aquino and Trillanes in relation to this issue.

Trillanes said that Duterte was either misinformed or giving a preview of a plan to blame him and Aquino for the alleged loss of the shoal to China.

“I will not allow it to happen because we have it on record that before he assumed office, we still had Scarborough. There is no reclamation going there,” Trillanes said.

Citing the statements made by the country’s security officials in two separate hearings conducted by the Senate committee on national defense and security, which he heads, Trillanes said that Panatag Shoal remains with the Philippines in spite of China’s aggressive moves to claim the disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea as well as surrounding areas.

Once Duterte becomes president, Trillanes said that such statements would lead to dangerous consequences for the Philippines because he would no longer be speaking as an ordinary citizen or mayor of Davao City.

“His statement is very dangerous because it will weaken our claim. What is important here is we stand firm that we have a claim there. Physically we have not lost it, the records will bear me out. Senior defense officials have been placed on record declaring that we have not lost Scarborough. Do not take it from me, do not take my word for it but take the word of all security officials of the country,” Trillanes said.

“Once he assumes power on June 30 and he says that we have lost Scarborough, that’s already a basis for an impeachment complaint,” he added.

Trillanes, who came out with allegations of corruption against Duterte during the campaign period, said he has no personal issue against the incoming president and that he is just doing what needs to be done to protect the country’s territorial integrity.

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