Press Release
July 2, 2019

De Lima demands full disclosure of Duterte's 'secret' deal with China

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has challenged the Duterte administration to make public the "secret deal" Mr. Duterte entered with China allowing the Chinese to fish in the country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea (SCS).

De Lima, a former justice secretary, pointed out that no executive agreement or even international treaty can supersede the Philippine Constitution because the power to enter into executive agreements and international treaties is derived from it.

"Duterte's admission that he struck a deal with China in 2016 allowing Chinese fishermen to fish in our EEZ is a shocking revelation," she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 456.

"This means that Duterte secretly entered into a bilateral fisheries agreement that should properly have been the subject of an international treaty because it lays down new policy not established by legislation," she added.

Last June 26, Mr. Duterte reportedly said he cannot bar Chinese fishermen from fishing in the Philippines' EEZ in the SCS, locally referred to as the West Philippine Sea (WPS), due to a "mutual agreement" he made with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

His spokesperson Salvador Panelo later confirmed that the said agreement with China was "informal rather than documented" and "is being enforced in a way that we're being allowed to fish there in the areas that fishermen could not at the time."

However, note that the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal invalidated China's claim of ownership and sovereignty over the entire islands in the SCS as it ruled that Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over the WPS. China, however, refuses to comply with the verdict.

The lady Senator from Bicol said Duterte should make true his oft-repeated threat to resign his post because he keeps on treating the 1987 Constitution as a "toilet paper" and refuses to assert the country's sovereign rights over the waters and islands in the WPS.

"Since the Constitution is the social contract that gives the President the power to enter into executive agreements and the Senate to concur in the ratification of international treaties, neither the President nor the Senate can treat the Constitution as 'toilet paper' - as Duterte has so described our fundamental law with so much contempt," she said.

"Mr. Duterte, labis-labis ang drama mo sa paghalik sa bandila ng Pilipinas, pero wagas din naman ang iyong pambabastos sa dokumentong nagsasalamin ng ating pagka-bansa at nagtatag ng Republikang iyong kinakatawan. Kung 'toilet paper' din lang ang trato mo sa dokumentong nagbigay sa iyo ng kapangyarihan, lumayas ka na diyan sa Malacañang," she added.

De Lima, a known social justice and human rights champion, also expressed alarm that Duterte may have other secret dealings with China that threaten the country's national security and put the welfare of the Filipinos in peril.

"Do these secret deals include the Chinese invasion of our labor sector and the Chinese take-over of urban space in Metro Manila?" she asked.

"Do these include a presidential guarantee of submission to whatever China wants in exchange for personal financial gain? Do these include Chinese material aid and promise to prop up Duterte's chosen successor as the next Chinese puppet?" she added.

In her Dispatch from Crame No. 544, De Lima said Mr. Duterte may be committing an impeachable offense when he asserted that the Chinese fishermen could fish in the country's EEZ in the West Philippines Sea.

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