Duterte liable for corruption in secret deals with Xi – Carpio

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

Ex-president Rody Duterte harmed Filipinos in his secret deals with Communist China. He can be indicted for corruption, retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio said.

Duterte has admitted two secret concessions to Chinese leader Xi Jinping during his incumbency. One, to not repair the Navy’s BRP Sierra Madre and in effect let it rust in Ayungin Shoal. Two, to let Chinese trawl in the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

Both compromised Philippine interests, Carpio told this column:

• Duterte forbade maintenance of Sierra Madre, beached in Ayungin to repel Chinese annexation. From 2016 to 2022 the ship rotted.

If not for the steadfastness of Marines posted there, it would have collapsed into the sea 120 miles off Palawan. Only in 2023 have repairs resumed, amid China Coast Guard attacks on civilian resupply boats.

• Duterte allowed China’s fishing fleet, the world’s largest, to trespass the West Philippine Sea. No limits on volume, area and season.

A Chinese trawler can haul in 12 tons per day, its information ministry bragged. Under Duterte the Philippine Coast Guard recorded at least 270 Chinese poacher ships per day, hauling in 3,240 tons. Annual catch: 1.2 million tons.

The catch of 350,000 Filipino fishermen dropped by half. Consumer prices soared. Chinese fisheries militia steel trawlers rammed and drove away Filipino wooden boats.

All this makes Duterte liable under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, R.A. 3019:

“Section 3 – Corrupt practices of public officers. In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:

Xi and Duterte, 2018
PCO file photo

“… (e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.”

The prescription for graft and corruption is 20 years. Best to charge Duterte in 2025 after the term of his appointee, Ombudsman Samuel Martires, Carpio said.

Punishment: one to ten years’ imprisonment, perpetual disqualification from public office, and “confiscation or forfeiture in favor of the Government of any prohibited interest and unexplained wealth manifestly out of proportion to his salary and other lawful income.”

Carpio said Duterte unduly injured the government, Filipino fishermen and the public: “He was manifestly partial and grossly negligent. He did not even know where Ayungin is, that it’s a low-tide elevation within the West Philippine Sea and beyond China’s own EEZ and that The Hague court declared as illegal China’s incursions.”

Duterte, who visited Beijing five times during his term, disclosed last week his so-called “gentlemen’s agreement” with Xi.

He stated: “Aside from the fact of having a handshake with President Xi Jinping, the only thing I remember was status quo. That’s the word na walang galawan – no movement, no armed patrols there... para walang magkagulo, hindi tayo magkagulo. ‘Yun ang naaalala ko. I do not even know the Ayungin Shoal.

“As is where is nga. You cannot bring in materials to repair and improve. No agreement, as is where is. Kasi kung Sierra Madre pa lang, if allowed, matagal nang repaired yan. Nakauwi na yan dito.”

Carpio cited a third violation by Duterte: “He ordered the Navy to limit patrols to only our 12-mile territorial waters, thus leaving the EEZ unguarded.”

Carpio said that was a culpable violation of the Constitution: “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”

“Duterte broke his oath of office to ‘preserve and defend the Constitution’,” Carpio said. “He can no longer be impeached since his term is over, but can be indicted for corruption.”

A president is immune from criminal or civil suit while in office, but not after, Carpio said. That’s to insulate the Chief Executive from distraction, the Supreme Court has ruled.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., dwIZ (882-AM).

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