Magdalo Party List eyes complaint vs. Duterte on Scarborough Shoal

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Magdalo party-list group is mulling filing another complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte over his foreign policy pronouncements, even as the House of Representatives has yet to formally tackle its impeachment case.

"We're studying right now whether to file a supplemental complaint regarding the President's foreign policy, being subservient to China," Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano told CNN Philippines' The Source.

Alejano filed an impeachment case against Duterte on March 16, citing his alleged hand in extrajudicial killings and corruption.

The possible filing of a supplemental complaint comes after China was reported to have plans of building monitoring stations on Scarborough Shoal, one of the disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte said Sunday that the Philippines could "not stop China from doing this."

"So what do you want me to do? What do you want? Declare war against China? I can, but we'll all lose our military and policemen tomorrow," Duterte said.

Duterte: We can't stop Chinese structures on Panatag Shoal

However, Alejano maintains that armed conflict is not the only way to retaliate.

"War is not the only option here," said Alejano. "You are the President and you have the responsibility to defend this country and our territory."

"He's saying he cannot do anything about it, then that's dereliction of duty," he added.

Alejano suggested instead that Duterte must "constantly (raise) our issues in West Philippine Sea," but he noted that Duterte was "afraid (of offending) China."

Chinese-Philippine relations have warmed since Duterte took office in July last year. Shifting away from the West, Duterte has exercised friendlier ties with China.

On Sunday, he maintained that China "is our friend," although Foreign Affairs and Defense officials have filed several diplomatic complaints over new structures in the disputed area.

 

Alejano said the impeachment complaint was a collective decision of Magdalo's 23-member executive committee, chaired by another prominent Duterte critic, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

Trillanes was previously a backdoor negotiator with China under President Benigno Aquino III's term. He was revealed to have participated in informal talks that were aimed at diffusing tension over Scarborough Shoal.

Alejano and Trillanes were previously involved in the 2013 Oakwood Mutiny, a failed attempt to oust then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.