Additional impeach rap vs Duterte mere propaganda, publicity ploy — Panelo

MANILA — Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Thursday dismissed the supplemental impeachment complaint filed against President Rodrigo Duterte as a mere propaganda ploy meant to garner publicity for Magdalo Partylist Rep. Gary Alejano.

Alejano earlier in the day filed the additional complaint over allegations that the President secretly allowed China to explore territorial waters.

In the complaint, the mutineer-turned-lawmaker alleged that Duterte “failed and/or refused to assert the country’s exclusive sovereign rights and maritime rights and territorial rights over Benham Rise and Panatag Shoal and the rest of the West Philippine Sea.”

Alejano claimed that President Duterte’s actions amounted to betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of Constitution and dereliction of duty.

But Panelo said this was all nonsense.

“It is nonsense geared for propaganda and publicity for himself,” the Presidential lawyer said in a statement.

In fact, the additional complaint may even be invalid under the law, he added.

“It may even be deemed to be a second impeachment complaint which is a prohibited complaint under the one year prohibition limiting the filing to only one complaint in a year,” Panelo said.

Last year, an international tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines over its claims in the West Philippine Sea, particularly Panatag Shoal, which China has claimed to be its own.

President Duterte has repeatedly said that he would not discuss the ruling with China at present as he sought to build warmer ties with the superpower.

He however stressed that he is not ceding the territory to Beijing and assured that he will bring it to the table at the proper time.

Meanwhile, Chinese ships have reportedly sailed in Benham Rise for three months from December last year.

Benham Rise, a 24-million-hectare undersea plateau off the coast of Aurora province touted to have vast natural gas deposits and mineral resources, has been awarded to the Philippines by the United Nations in 2012.

Duterte has said that Chinese ships can sail through the area based on freedom of navigation “but cannot build any structures” there.

Earlier this month, Alejano filed the first impeachment complaint against Duterte.

The impeachment complaint is based on alleged killings and corruption supposedly committed by Duterte both as President and as then mayor of Davao City.

Malacañang dismissed the complaint as part of a larger and well-orchestrated destabilization plot against President Duterte. Cielito Reganit/