President Rodrigo Duterte was caught between two difficult situations in addressing the presence of the Chinese fishermen in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone, said former University of the East Law dean Amado Valdez on Sunday.
"Ang sitwasyon niya ay nasa pagitan ng demonyo at deep blue sea," Valdez said on Super Radyo dzBB. "Yung pag-amin na 'yun, na wala kang kakayahang [lumaban] mas malaking... ito 'yung demonyo. Kaysa sasabihin na deep blue sea, sasabihin na kumuha kayo ng isda dyan."
Valdez added that the real issue was whether the country was equipped to go to war against China should the president decide to go that direction.
"Kaya ba ng Coast Guard natin na lumaban? Mas malaki ba ang mawawala? Mas marami ba ang mamamatay? Marami bang damage?," the lawyer asked.
"Parang suicidal situation. Palagay ko naman maski ang Constitution ay ipinagbabawal yan na gumawa ka ng hakbang para lalong ilalagay sa hindi magandang sitwasyon ang bayan mo."
Critics have threatened to impeach the president for allowing Chinese fishermen to trawl in the country's EEZ.
Permission was given after a June 9, 2019 incident in which a Chinese fishing vessel rammed a Filipino fishing boat, manned by 22 crew, at the Recto Bank.
Duterte argued that the Philippines could not enforce its sovereignty over its EEZ, and the only other reponse available was to wage a war that the country could not possibly win.
Duterte also said that he would jail anyone who dared file an impeachment case against him.
"I-impeach ako? Kulungin ko silang lahat. Subukan ninyo," the president threatened. "I-impeach mo ako? I-deliver ko kayo sa Beijing lahat. You want me not only to violate the Constitution. How can I protect the resources when there's nobody to eat it?"
Exercises of sovereignty
Valdez believed that the EEZ problem would be addressed over time.
"'Yung panahon na 'yun, you have to strengthen yourself," the law expert said.
He also pointed out that the government could assert the country's sovereignty by filing formal complaints against the Chinese fishermen who rammed and abandoned the Filipino fishermen at sea.
"At least maipakita natin sa China na kapag umulit kayo rito, kapag nagpunta kayo rito mapa-filean kayo ng kaso. These are the exercises of sovereignty na hindi ka lalaban sa isang gyera at maire-remind mo naman sa mga citizen ng China na hindi kayo immune sa aming prosecution," Valdez explained.
"Pag ganun ang astang gagawin natin, ang China hindi naman sasabihing 'Huwag niyo i-prosecute 'yan,' kasi wala naman silang jurisdiction dito sa atin. Doon mo na ipapakita ngayon ang sovereignty mo." — Dona Magsino/DVM, GMA News