President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a message during the 70th birthday celebration of former President and incumbent Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Arroyo at La Vista Subdivision in Quezon City on April 5, 2017, where the celebrant Arroyo presents a post-birthday cake to President Duterte who celebrated his birthday on March 28, 2017.
PPD/Albert Alcain
Campaign season long over, Duterte told after 'occupy' order
Audrey Morallo ( - April 7, 2017 - 6:51pm

MANILA, Philippines — Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano on Friday accused President Rodrigo Duterte of remaining in the campaign mode in ordering the military to occupy Philippine-controlled islands in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).

Alejano, the representative who filed the first impeachment complaint against the president, said that the president's command for the military to occupy and build structures on at least nine islands under the country's control was reminiscent of the rhetoric of candidate Duterte.

"Tapos na ang kampanya. Campaign time has been over for a year, promises should have been executed since day one in office. But it seems that Duterte is still in the campaign trail," Alejano said.AL

ALSO READ: Analysts doubt Duterte's seriousness in occupying South China Sea

The former military officer said that instead of issuing "empty rhetoric and shooting-from-the-hips pronouncements" the chief executive should employ concrete actions and formulate a "clear, holistic" strategy to secure the West Philippine Sea, the Panatag Shoal and Benham Rise.

He said a clear policy would guide foreign affairs and defense departments in their actions on the issue.

"Included in this strategy must be rules of engagement with other claimant states and contingency actions should these countries particularly China make overt and aggressive acts against our troops or fishermen in WPS," he said.

Holding Duterte accountable

The Magdalo representative said that the public should more critical of Duterte's pronouncements and hold him accountable for these.

"The truthfulness of words must be seen through concrete actions. Mister President, tama na ang atik-atik!"

Alejano said that Duterte's visit to Palawan and a military base showed that he was concerned about the impeachment complaint he was facing in Congress.

The congressman emphasized that Duterte's trip there, which he called a "sortie," would not "erase" the chief executive's alleged betrayal of public trust and dereliction of duty as president.

However, by mere speaking to the troops could not erase or cover the fact that he has betrayed public trust and committed the CRIME OF DERELICTION OF HIS SWORN DUTY AS PRESIDENT WHEN HE UTTERLY FAILED AND/OR REFUSED TO ASSERT THE COUNTRY'S EXCLUSIVE SOVEREIGN RIGHTS AND MARITIME RIGHTS AND TERRITORIAL CLAIMS OVER BENHAM RISE AND PANATAG SHOAL AND THE REST OF THE WEST PHILIPPINE SEA as embodied in the supplemental impeachment complaint against the president.

Alejano also criticized Duterte's contradiction in his policies on China and the West Philippine Sea.

"He claims he does not want to go to war with China and yet he orders our Armed Forces to occupy islands in WPS which is confrontative (sic) and provocative to other claimant countries," he said.

40 years behind

Alejano, who was a Philippine Marine officer before he became a party-list representative, said that the president seemed unaware of maritime issues. He said the island-grabbing activities in the area started in the 70s and that the president was 40 years late in his appreciation of the situation.

Alejano said that the 10 features that Duterte ordered to occupy were in fact already inhabited by Filipino soldiers. He added that the Philippine flag had already been hoisted on these features.

Considering this, Alejano said that all the president had to do was use the budget Congress allocated for the rehabilitation of these structures.

"The budget has already been approved by Congress. All the president has to do is to implement them in order to make these islands habitable and sustainable not only for our soldiers but for our fishermen as well," he said.

Duterte also needs to clearly define the country's national interest and security that could serve as basis in dealing with China on the issue.

He said that the modernization of the military especially is external defense capability should complement these actions. He underscored the fact that other countries' views of the Philippines depend on its capacity to defend itself.

Clarifying that he has nothing against establishing better relations with China, Alejano said that all the actions of the Philippines should be in accordance with the ruling of the Hague-based tribunal which invalidated China's expansive claim in the area.

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