Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to jail anyone who moved to impeach him because he had said he could not stop Chinese boats from fishing in South China Sea waters within Manila’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
Duterte late Thursday dared his critics who had complained about the government’s inability to hold Beijing accountable for the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese trawler that strayed into the EEZ on June 9.
“Impeach me? I will jail you all. Try me,” Duterte said. “I am challenging you to do it. You really want to force my hand on it?”
After downplaying the sinking for nearly two weeks, Duterte on June 22 agreed to a joint investigation with China into the incident. Instead of demanding reparations, the president called the sinking a simple “maritime incident” that should not strain ties between the two countries.
On Thursday, Duterte said he could not approach Chinese leader Xi Jinping to tell him to stay out of Manila-controlled fishing areas in the exclusive zone. He said waving a copy of the Philippine constitution in front of Xi would not be effective.
“I will go there, tell them to get out, this is the constitution. They will tell me, you run out of toilet paper, use it,” he said.
“And that piece of paper, the constitution, will become meaningless with no spirit except desperation, agony and suffering,” the president said.
The Philippine constitution clearly states the government shall protect the country’s marine wealth in its waters, territorial sea and EEZ, as well as reserve its use for Filipinos.
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Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.
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