Hontiveros warns vs emphasis on Philippines-China relations

Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - October 23, 2016 - 10:46pm

MANILA, Philippines - The administration may be giving too much importance to its relations with China to the detriment of the country’s struggle to preserve its maritime domain and recover territories seized by the Chinese, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said over the weekend.

In his recent state visit to Beijing, Duterte declared his “separation” from long-time Philippine ally United States and his pivot to China and Russia.

Hontiveros said Duterte’s show of rapport with China may be in exchange for deals more beneficial to Beijing than to Manila.

“President Duterte must understand that the country cannot possibly have a respectable foreign policy by ditching the chains of one colonial master in exchange for another, by rejecting US imperialism only to accede to the Chinese government’s regional bullying and social-imperialism, by preferring another power because it turns a blind eye to the government’s alleged human rights violations,” she said.

Of particular concern to Hontiveros was the decision of the government to “shelve” the Philippines’ legal victory in the Arbitral Tribunal at The Hague during the President’s bilateral talks with China.

“This victory was the product of determined diplomatic work on the part of our foreign affairs representatives and the thousands of ordinary Filipinos who marched to the streets to defend our sovereignty,” Hontiveros said.

“President Duterte’s attempt to make a deal with China in grave disregard of the Hague ruling is wrong. That we have to get China’s approval in order for our fishermen to gain access to Philippine marine resources is absurd. This renders our hard-fought victory hollow and our sovereignty severely compromised,” she added.

As a result of the President’s visit to China, Beijing has committed some $24 billion in funding and future investment for the Philippines.

While these may look good on paper, Hontiveros warned such agreements would not exactly be in the best interest of the country.

“It appears that we traded the West Philippine Sea to China for these loans. On this basis alone, we are at the losing end of this bargain,” Hontiveros said.


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