The imbroglio brought about by the reported intentional ramming of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese fishing vessel has already gone to as far as talks of potential impeachment of the President because of his alleged culpable violation of the Constitution.
As of last Thursday morning, it has leveled up a step farther. First Senate President Tito Sotto III said in a television interview that should those who are not in accord with the President’s handling of the issue file an impeachment rap then it would be a “test case” if indeed the President has violated the Constitution.
By Thursday afternoon the situation seemed to have turned from bad to worst. This time it was the President who hurled the challenge to his critics to bring the impeachment rap on. But what made his pronouncement chillier was his threatening words that he will have those who will attempt to oust him by filing an impeachment case jailed.
Was the President joking when he said those words? Was he mouthing another hyperbole? We have a good number of years covering the President as a local journalist while he was vice mayor, mayor and congressman in Davao City. And from his facial expression when he issued the statement late last week, we know he was not joking. Neither was he using a hyperbole.
We hope, however, that he was still joking and using a hyperbole. But even as no one of his authorized mouth pieces are saying or insinuating that the President was, already, many Pinoys, are virtually stirred like hornets after their nest is smoked.
Some are worried that all these could trigger even more drastic reactions from those who are covertly harboring animosity against the present dispensation.
Personally though, we stand four squares with him in his position that simply agreeing with the earlier claim of the crew of the rammed fishing boat that it was done intentionally without a thorough investigation on the incident, will not ferret out the whole truth.
Neither are we in accord with the demand of his critics that the administration unilaterally implement the decision of the International Arbitral Tribunal ousting the Chinese-created 9-1 line boundary of that country’s territory and imposing our own claim of the area in the West Philippine Sea as part of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) grant by the arbitral tribunal.
Every well-meaning Filipino, including those strongly criticizing the President’s handling of the situation, know that doing such cannot just be done as simply as they (critics and laws of the seas experts) think.
They want the Duterte administration to seek intervention by the United States through the existing military alliance treaty between the two countries. But the US is fighting its own difficult trade war with China that it cannot hope to win sitting down!
They want the United Nations (UN) to come in? How? By sending in armed elements to the whole of the West Philippine Sea to obviate what they call as Chinese aggression? Yes, it is possible that the UN may decide to send multi-nation troops to protect Philippine territory. But will the UN pay for the cost? Will it not charge troop maintenance expenses to the Philippine government?
With this proposition we are reminded of the case of the multi-nations soldiers serving the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Europe. Was not US President Trump loudly complaining that the other NATO member countries are not religiously paying their share in the cost of maintaining the NATO troops and equipment?
And let us not forget that China sits in the 5-nation Security Council of the UN along with another of its strong ally — Russia.
Will the UN Security Council recommend for the approval of such Philippine request, if one is made, without giving China the compelling reason for their action?
Indeed, the conflicting views on the Duterte handling of the Recto Bank incident is putting the government in a bind. Here is these groups of learned critics who claim full knowledge of the relevant provisions of the Constitution and want it interpreted literally by the President as they do.
Unfortunately for them, they are not the ones charge to make the decision that in the end should be reckoned with as to its correctness or mistake only when its consequences (bad or good for the nation) start to set in.
Yes, whether the President’s adopted strategy in dealing with the matter will end up protecting the Filipino people and the sovereignty of the nation, or will lead this country and its people to the road of perdition, it’s only time that can tell.
Meanwhile, let the unerring critics file an impeachment case to prove to all and sundry they are correct. Let them do their thing to censure the President’s threatening remarks and find out whether they have the support of the majority of the people.
But that an impeachment case is still all in the mouth, it would probably be fair to the rest of the Filipinos if the President and his administration is given some breathing space in doing what they think is best for the nation. After all it is he who is accountable for the outcome of his action. He alone.
May be there is wisdom in remembering that not all battle plans drawn by the best and brightest generals cannot win all wars. It is how the commanders in the field use and execute the plan according to the situation prevailing in the battle fields.