Rodrigo Duterte has opened himself to lawsuits. 

Agreeing to something he does not fully understand is so stupid. Worse, he has allowed the country to potentially lose a strategic outpost to monitor and check Chinese activities in the disputed South China Sea.

Duterte may have committed an act of treason. If he was still in power, the “gentleman’s agreement” was a gross violation of the Constitution, an impeachable offense.

But he is still liable under the law for committing treacherous activities, which carries life imprisonment and a fine of 4 million pesos.

For a long time, China has accused the Philippines of reneging on a promise to remove a dilapidated naval transport stranded on a submerged shoal in the Spratly Islands and not to repair BRP Sierra Madre.

The Philippines denied this, of course. Former security officials and diplomats did not remember any verbal and written agreement about BRP Sierra Madre.

Last month, lawyer Harry Roque, former president Duterte’s former spokesman, revealed a “gentleman’s agreement” made by Duterte with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Roque’s statement sparked a debate until Duterte himself acknowledged he went into a verbal agreement in 2017.

Duterte’s confession raised more questions than answers to China’s accusations.

Why would Duterte agree on a status quo when there was already a status quo in the South China Sea based on the 2002 agreement between China and the 10 Southeast Asian nations on an informal code of conduct?

Why would Duterte agree not to repair BRP Sierra Madre when there’s a strong possibility it would collapse soon?

The World War II-vintage naval transport was deliberately beached 25 years ago on the submerged Second Thomas Shoal, or Ayungin Shoal, to prevent China from occupying more features closer to Palawan.

In 1995, China occupied the half-submerged Mischief Reef, or Panganiban Reef, less than three years after the US abandoned its two large overseas bases in Clark and Subic.

There were indications Beijing would occupy more uninhabited features after Manila discovered concrete markers in the reefs, shoals, and atolls in the West Philippine Sea. They were removed by the Philippines, blasting them to preserve the status quo.

There was no need for an agreement to keep the status quo. The Philippines also has the right to repair BRP Sierra Madre under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea because the vessel was within its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

China has been waiting for BRP Sierra Madre to collapse and seize Ayungin Shoal just like it did to Scarborough Shoal in 2012.

In case that scenario happens, the country will lose a strategic outpost. Why would Duterte allow that? Only the former president can answer that.

If he said he was unaware of what Ayungin Shoal was about when he verbally agreed with Xi Jinping, the Philippines has a serious problem.

The Philippines may have had a leader who was intoxicated by large doses of fentanyl that he was not in his right mind when dealing with another leader.

So who is the real drug dependent? Could it be Duterte, who was completely unaware of what he was agreeing to, or Marcos Jr., whom Duterte has been accusing or being an addict?

Would there be a legal remedy if there was a verbal agreement on BRP Sierra Madre?

It is not binding if there is no written record about the deal. It was a deal between Duterte and Xi, and Marcos is not obliged to honor it.

Is Duterte liable under the law if there is no proof of the deal? Lawyers may argue he still faces some liability because he admitted to it. His confession is an admission of guilt. Therefore, he is liable.

He should be prosecuted for treason.