Malacañang on Sunday shrugged off the treason and espionage charges filed against President Benigno Aquino III by the camp of presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
The Duterte camp earlier announced the filing of charges against Mr. Aquino and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV for supposedly conducting “back-channel” talks with China.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that the charges against the President have no legal basis.
“There is no legal basis for the reported case filed against the President. We reiterate that the actions taken by the government regarding the settlement of disputes in the South China Sea are rules-based, thus we have filed for arbitration under the UNCLOS rules,” Coloma said in a statement.
The Palace official also reminded the camp of the presidential front-runner that treason, under the Revised Penal Code, can only be committed in times of war where the Philippines is involved.
“Clearly, it is not applicable at this time,” he said.
The filing came days after Trillanes accused Duterte of pocketing millions of dollars in undisclosed bank accounts.
“Senator Trillanes met with the Chinese 16 times, and he requested that the meeting [be] secret. In those meetings, Trillanes made mention 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 Spratly Islands. That alone constitutes treason,” a part of the complaint filed by Duterte supporters said.