Senators back proposal to end contracts with Chinese firms involved in West Philippine Sea reclamation
This Oct. 31, 2017 satellite image shows China's construction on Mischief or Panganiban Reef, which is within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
CSIS/AMTI via DigitalGlobe

Senators back proposal to end contracts with Chinese firms involved in West Philippine Sea reclamation

Bella Perez-Rubio ( - August 28, 2020 - 5:40pm

MANILA, Philippines — Two senators on Friday backed the country's top diplomat after he urged concerned government agencies to terminate contracts with Chinese companies involved in island-building activities in the West Philippine Sea.

Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. made the suggestion in response to the decision of the United States to blacklist 24 state-owned firms for taking part in militarizing features in the disputed South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

"If I find that any of those companies are doing business with us then I would strongly recommend terminating the relationship with that company," Locsin told CNN Philippines during an interview. 

Sen. Ping Lacson, who chairs the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, said the statement from Locsin was a "long time coming" from the country's top diplomat, according to a a report from The STAR. 

"China's display of arrogance by accusing us of infringing on its sovereignty and security by sending military aircraft into air space adjacent to Panatag Shoal/Bajo de Masinloc, urging the Philippines to immediately stop illegal provocations tops it all," he added.

Lacson earlier on Friday also took to Twitter to express his support, offering kudos to Locsin for "putting the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman in his place."

"Banning us from sending our military aircrafts into airspace near Panatag Shoal surely deserves a strong rebuke. I’m proud that our top foreign policy implementor did it," he added.

Sen. Francis Tolentino, who sits as the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, similarly backed Locsin's suggestion but caveated his support on the chief executive's approval.

"As long as the decision of the [Department of Foreign Affairs] is in line with the president’s independent foreign policy pivot, I truly support the same. It is about time we truly assert our sovereign claims in the West Philippine Sea even through diplomatic means," Tolentino said.

While the senator expressed gratitude towards America for its support, he said the DFA's proposal "should be grounded not because of the recent US pronouncement but because it is in accord with our highest national interests." — with reports from Patricia Lourdes Viray and The STAR's Paolo Romero

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