THE claim that President Duterte should be impeached for not restricting our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) from foreigners is so absurd that it is astonishing that media has given it mileage at all, with even otherwise sober commentators believing that rubbish.
What is disgusting is that the two men mainly responsible for spreading this nonsense—Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio and Aquino 3rd’s foreign secretary Albert del Rosario—cannot not know that they are misleading the public, as I will show in the course of this piece.
Why are they doing so? Because of an ideological hatred for China, and an added factor for del Rosario, to cover up for his role in our losing Bajo de Masinloc (also known as Panatag or Scarborough Shoal) in 2012 to China. The Yellows are cheering them and repeating their yarn of course because they think they can pull down Duterte’s popularity by stoking the embers of anti-Chinese racism among Filipinos.
At the outset, we have to emphasize first that Duterte was referring not to our EEZ in its entirety but only to Recto Bank (Reed Bank) within which he said we cannot ban Chinese fishermen. His comment was in the wake of protests over the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel – whether it was a deliberate case of ramming or an accidental collision hasn’t been established.
Recto Bank is indeed within our 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and whose natural resources therefore we have the sovereign rights to exploit. (Let’s leave out of this discussion the other fact that Recto Bank is also within the area we claim as territory, the Kalayaan Island Group, but which China, Taiwan, and Vietnam also claim.)