An impeachable offense.
Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said that President Rodrigo Duterte may be subjected to an impeachment complaint if he refuses to perform his sworn duty to defend the territorial and sovereign rights of the country.
Hilbay made this statement amidst the confirmed report that the Chinese army had installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems somewhere in the West Philippine Sea.
Vietnam through its Foreign Ministry had demanded that China withdraw the said missiles.
“Vietnam requests that China, as a major regional and global power, show responsibility in the maintenance of peace and stability in the East Sea, stop militarization and withdraw military equipment illegally deployed on structures under Vietnam’s sovereignty,”
Le Thi Thu Hang, the spokesperson of the Ministry said.
Both the Philippines and Vietnam are claiming legal rights over the outpost where China placed its missiles.
While Vietnam’s response had been immediate and assertive, Duterte did not call out China and instead passed the blame to the administration of former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino and the Unites States of America for China’s militarization in the area.
According to Hilbay, the president’s conscious failure or inaction to protect our national territories is not only a culpable violation of the constitution but is also tantamount to betrayal of public trust.
Both culpable violation of the constitution and betrayal of public trust are two of the specific grounds for impeaching and removing an impeachable public official like the president.
Hilbay is part of the Philippine contingent that filed and defended our case against China before the Arbitral Tribunal of the United Nations. In fact, he was instrumental in arguing in behalf of the country. Thus, this issue is not only personal for the former solicitor general. It is a matter so close to his heart.
“We are now realizing the fruition of a century-long plan of China which is to take effective control of the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea,” Hilbay said.
Hilbay lamented the Duterte administration’s foreign policy of “total friendliness” with China as he urged the government to file a formal protest against China’s move.
Moreover, he asked the government to adopt a multilateral approach in dealing with China as he claims that it is not yet too late to invoke the favorable arbitral ruling that says that the West Philippine Sea is part of the Philippine territory.
Echoing the widespread criticism directed at the president for acting as a subservient lapdog of China instead of performing his task as elected leader of the country, Hilbay blasted Duterte for practically surrendering our territories to China.
“We are clearly seeing the disappointing turn of events that is anchored on the President’s policy of basically giving everything to China,” Hilbay quipped.