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Senators seek probe of Chinese plane stops, TV shows

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star
Senators seek probe of Chinese plane stops, TV shows
Led by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, opposition senators filed Senate Resolution 779 to find out from the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) whether landings of Chinese military aircraft were covered by a treaty or any legally binding agreement between Manila and Beijing.
Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate minority bloc wants an inquiry launched immediately to determine if the successive “technical stops” of Chinese military aircraft in Davao City’s airport violated the constitutional prohibition on the presence of foreign troops in the country.

Led by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, opposition senators filed Senate Resolution 779 to find out from the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) whether landings of Chinese military aircraft were covered by a treaty or any legally binding agreement between Manila and Beijing.

“The successive occurrence of Chinese military planes making technical stops in Davao City raises the question of whether the Constitution’s proscription against the presence of foreign troops in the country is being violated by the Duterte administration,” the opposition senators said.

Other members of the bloc are Sens. Leila de Lima, Risa Hontiveros, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Francis Pangilinan and Antonio Trillanes IV.

In their five-page resolution, the senators said the Philippines has no existing treaty with China on the use of the country’s military and civilian facilities by Chinese military aircraft.

“The circumstances of the Chinese military aircraft landing in Davao are giving rise to speculations that the use by the Chinese military of Davao City’s airport facilities is a personal favor granted by the President to China,” they said.

Last June 8, a Chinese military plane landed at the Davao City International Airport purportedly to “refuel” after it was, according to Special Assistant Christopher Go, “received, processed and cleared” by concerned Philippine government agencies.

On June 24, another Chinese aircraft was allowed to land and refuel in Davao City, prompting Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque to assure the public the necessary protocols were followed in the latest “technical stop” of the foreign plane.

However, Trillanes cited information from sources that it was not the first time a Chinese plane landed in Davao City, raising questions whether protocols were followed or if there was an attempt to hide the incident from the public.

The minority senators stressed the Senate should conduct an investigation in view of China’s aggressive island-building and militarization in the West Philippine Sea as well as its taking control over Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

“There is a need to clarify the role of the DND and the AFP in approving, monitoring and overseeing the transit, passage, presence and use of the Philippine facilities by foreign military aircraft,” they said.

They also wanted to find out whether the approval or acquiescence of the President alone to the presence of foreign military aircraft, troops or naval vessels within the Philippine territory is enough to permit or allow their presence.

Probe on PTV-4 sought

The bloc also sought an immediate investigation into the propriety of the Duterte administration’s plan to air Filipino-dubbed Chinese shows and movies on the state-run People’s Television Network (PTV-4) starting this August.

In filing Senate Resolution 780, they urged the appropriate committees in the Senate to look into the government’s plan to air Chinese shows which they believe may be “an insidious agenda” to advance the propaganda of the Chinese Communist Party.

“Airing Chinese shows on our state-run network poses a danger of spreading Chinese propaganda sanctioned by our government through our official media stations,” the resolution read.

They said the airing of Chinese government propaganda in the state-run media organization signifies what they described as a “clear and present danger of Chinese domination” in the Philippines.

Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jinhua announced the planned airing of Chinese programs on PTV-4 last June 14.

The senators said the airing of these Chinese shows may subtly inculcate among Filipinos the authoritarian, one-party state, anti-democratic and atheist ideology and principles of the Chinese Communist Party.

They said the government’s plan might ultimately destroy the Filipino’s democratic, pro-people and religious culture and identity due to the continued tolerance and leniency of the government to Chinese intervention in the public’s political and economic lives.

“It is incumbent upon the government to shield the broadcast industry from any form of intrusive and invasive foreign agenda of domination, control and brainwashing of the Filipino people, be it subtle or explicit,” they said.

The senators said the state should guarantee at all times a proper balance of information and news dissemination in the country, especially using the government-owned media network.

PTV-4 is mandated to give due priority to television programs that foster patriotism and nationalism in every Filipino and not to “pollute” the airwaves with propaganda of a foreign government like China, they said.

Under Republic Act 7306, also known as the “Charter of the People’s Television Network, Incorporated,” PTV-4 is mandated to “develop the broadcasting industry as a medium for development, promotion and advancement of Filipino nationalism, culture and values that serve as an instrument in the struggle for Filipino sovereignty, identity, national unity and integration.”

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES

CHINESE MILITARY AIRCRAFT

PEOPLE’S TELEVISION NETWORK

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