A Malacañang official shrugged off on Sunday, May 8, the treason and espionage charges filed by the camp of presidential front-runner Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte against President Benigno Aquino saying the charges “have no legal basis.”
“There is no legal basis for the reported case filed against the President,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a statement.
Coloma insisted that Aquino’s policy in resolving conflict with China over the disputed islands in the South China Sea has always been of peaceful and rules-based approach.
“We reiterate that the actions taken by the Government regarding the settlement of disputes in the SCS are rules-based, thus, we filed for arbitration under the UNCLOS rules,” the spokesman added.
He also pointed out that based on the Revised Penal Code, “treason may be committed only in times of war where the Philippines is involved.”
“Clearly, it is not applicable at this time,” he said.
Last Friday, Duterte’s campaign manager Martin Diño announced that they have filed treason and espionage charges against Aquino and vice presidential aspirant Senator Antonio Trillanes IV before the Office of the Ombudsman.
The charges stemmed from alleged “back-channel” talks by Trillanes with Beijing supposedly approved by Aquino.
Quoting supposed notes of former Philippine Ambassador to China Sonia Brady, the complaint said Trillanes mentioned in at least 16 meetings with Chinese officials that “the Philippines cannot enforce coastal protection and that made the Chinese take an aggressive [stance] and take over our areas like Scarborough Shoal and Spratlys Islands.”
The complaint further said that Aquino and Trillanes “breached international policy” by bypassing the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The two were charged days before Trillanes accused Duterte of having millions of ill-gotten wealth stashed in various bank accounts.