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Bawal yan! Trillanes says Duterte may be impeached for giving China access to Benham Rise

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President Duterte may be opening himself up to an impeachable offense it will be proven that he already compromised the country’s maritime claims over Benham Rise when he agreed to allow Chinese surveillance ships into Philippine waters, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said Wednesday (Mar. 15).

“He cannot and that’s why it’s an impeachable offense. It’s treason according to some. But that has yet to be defined legally but for now we can say that it’s an impeachable offense for him to compromise our sovereign claims without letting Congress give him a mandate,” the senator in a television interview.

Trillanes, one of the principal authors in the Senate of the Philippine Archipelagic Baselines Law or RA 9522 which was passed in 2009 in compliance with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), said he will file a resolution in the afternoon to call for an investigation on the issue surrounding the Benham Rise.

“Hence this resolution,” the senator said, in further explaining the need to establish the basis for allowing the activities conducted by the Chinese surveillance ships sighted sitting atop the lucrative oil and gas deposits off the coast of Aurora province.

“We need to find out if the Pres already compromised our maritime claim over these areas and we also need to find out what the defense department is doing as regards protecting these areas because while I was in the Navy, we used to patrol these areas,” he said.

“(We need to find out) everything, what’s our official stand about the matter and what’s the defense department is doing about protecting our sovereign claims,” Trillanes added.

Insofar as the Benham Rise is concerned, the senator said there’s no debate that the Philippines has already established its territorial claims over it.

“As far as the whole world is concerned, we have already declared out archipelagic claims through this baselines law which we submitted to the UN and the governing body about these matters, UNCLOS. So legally we have a claim over the exclusive economic zone reckon from this archipelagic baselines law,” he said.

Trillanes said it should not come as a surprise if Malacanang will try to clarify the President’s recent pronouncements since it’s been typical of the Duterte administration to find itself in such a situation.

“The President would make an erratic or erroneous statement then Malacanang would try to rectify it and contain the damage. But regardless I’ll be filing a resolution this afternoon to call for an investigation as regards what’s happening in Benham Rise,” he said.

“It’s quite ironic that Duterte early on accused me and (former) Pres. (Benigno) Aquino for selling out the Philippine territory but when the arbitration ruling came out in our favor that basically negated or booted all these baseless claims and now we need to pounce on that possibility that he indeed sold out our sovereign interest. Remember he also didn’t pursue our claims in the [The Hague ruling] and that basically betrayed his intentions and this one is even worse because Benham Rise is not disputed at all,” Trillanes said.