Alejano wants Duterte impeached over Benham Rise, West PH Sea row

Mara Cepeda

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Alejano wants Duterte impeached over Benham Rise, West PH Sea row

King Rodriguez

(UPDATED) In his supplementary impeachment complaint, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano also alleges that the Philippine leader is forging 'secret deals' with Beijing

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano filed a supplemental impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte for allegedly failing to assert the Philippines’ exclusive sovereign rights and territorial claims over Benham Rise and the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), respectively.

Alejano filed the supplemental impeachment complaint-affidavit on Thursday, March 30, or 14 days after he filed the first impeachment complaint against the President. (READ: Highlights: Impeachment complaint vs Duterte)

In the 13-page document, Alejano accused Duterte of betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the 1987 Constitution, and other high crimes. (READ: Duterte impeachment complaint ‘a fight for all Filipinos,’ says Alejano

Alejano argued Duterte had made a “solemn campaign promise” when he said in a televised presidential debate that he would ride a jet ski to the nearest disputed island in the West Philippine Sea that is being occupied by China, and plant the Philippine flag there. 

The lawmaker said that instead, Duterte “failed and/or refused to protect and raise issue” over reports that China is planning to construct an environmental monitoring station in Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal), which is being claimed by both the Philippines and China. (READ: China denies plans to build on Scarborough Shoal)

Alejano also said in his complaint that Duterte has refused to assert the historic Hague ruling that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources in the West Philippine Sea.

The lawmaker cited the lack of response to China’s continuing militarization of the West Philippine Sea and also the withdrawal of the Philippine military in the joint maritime patrols with the United States. (READ: Duterte, China envoy discuss ‘proper handling’ of sea row)

Alejano also believes Duterte should be impeached for not seeing the presence of a Chinese survey ship in Benham Rise as an incursion in the country’s waters. (READ: Duterte briefed about Benham Rise after mix-up)

The United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf confirmed Benham Rise as part of the Philippines’ continental shelf, giving the country exclusive sovereign rights to explore the area. (READ: ‘No threat’ in Benham Rise – Esperon)

Secret deals with China? 

In his supplemental complaint, Alejano alleged that Duterte is forging “secret deals” with Beijing.

“Verily, Respondent Duterte has permitted China to trample upon our country’s rights and interest, and those of our people, apparently because he is afraid to offend his Chinese friends and/or because he has already made secret deals with them, to the grave and utter prejudice of our nation,” said Alejano. 

He added that while Duterte is not expected to declare war against China, the President and commander-in-chief is “duty-bound, at the very least, to vigorously assert and insist China respect the exclusive sovereign rights and/or maritime and territorial claims of the country through diplomatic and peaceful means.”

Duterte’s approach to China is markedly different from that of his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III. He indicated this during the presidential campaign, when he said that he was open to joint exploration of the West Philippine Sea with China.

When he became president, Duterte reiterated that he was willing to share resources in the disputed area with China, even after the favorable Hague ruling that was supposed to bolster the Philippines’ claim against the regional giant. 

Duterte is set to visit China in May – his second trip there as Chief Executive – to attend the One Belt, One Road Summit. He is expected to have 3 trips to China this year.

In his first impeachment complaint, the mutineer-turned-lawmaker cited the President’s alleged involvement in the creation of the Davao Death Squad when he was mayor, the bloody war against drugs, and Duterte’s supposed unexplained wealth in the form of undeclared bank deposits and properties, among others.

Alejano said only Magdalo is behind the impeachment complaint against Duterte and no other individuals or group. Vice President Leni Robredo and the Liberal Party, which Robredo chairs, had been accused of involvement in the complaint.

Read the full supplemental complaint below:


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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.