Resolution condemning China sea aggression filed at Senate

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
Resolution condemning China sea aggression filed at Senate
Through Resolution 980, Villanueva also urged the government to take legal and diplomatic actions against China, which has become bolder in asserting its claims in the West Philippine Sea.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — With Chinese aggression at sea intensifying, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva has filed a resolution expressing the Senate’s outrage and condemning the continued “illegal and dangerous actions” of the China Coast Guard and maritime militia in Philippine waters.

Through Resolution 980, Villanueva also urged the government to take legal and diplomatic actions against China, which has become bolder in asserting its claims in the West Philippine Sea.

“To express the sense of the Senate strongly condemning the unprovoked aggression, continued harassment and illegal and dangerous actions in the WPS by the CCG and the Chinese maritime militia, and urging and supporting the executive branch of the Philippine government to exert all legal and diplomatic countermeasures against the People’s Republic of China in asserting and securing the Philippines’ sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea,” Villanueva said, explaining his move to file the resolution.

On March 25, President Marcos signed Executive Order 57 “to comprehensively tackle” what he called cross-cutting issues that impact on the country’s national security and maritime jurisdiction.

Villanueva said in his resolution that while the presidential order includes the implementation of a response and countermeasure package, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Department of National Defense and other relevant government agencies should “exhaust and pursue all the necessary mechanisms, well within our rights, to put an end to the continued aggression and illegal activities of China in the WPS to protect our people and our national territory and ensure peace and stability in the region.”

He noted that on Aug. 1, the Senate adopted Resolution No. 79 condemning the continued harassment of Filipino fishermen by the Chinese and urging the DFA to bring international attention to the latest acts of Chinese provocations in the West Philippine Sea as well as rally support for the implementation of the 2016 arbitral award that nullified China’s massive claims in the West Philippine Sea.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, for her part, said there was nothing surprising about former presidential spokesman Harry Roque’s revelation regarding the existence of a “gentleman’s agreement” of former president Rodrigo Duterte with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the West Philippine Sea.

“Duterte always kowtowed to Beijing, putting his relationship with China first before our national interest. That much was clear during his presidency,” Hontiveros said.

“Duterte also never accorded our 2016 arbitral award its much-deserved respect and reverence. So it is not surprising that he had entered into all sorts of ‘gentleman’s agreement,’” she said.

“More importantly, the current Chief Executive has rescinded any concession that was made to China,” she added.

Duterte’s agreement favors a status quo, but does not cover the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.

“The BRP Sierra Madre should remain on Ayungin. Our troops have been risking their lives to guard that ship. Let’s not ignore their hard work and sacrifice,” Hontiveros pointed out.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, for his part, denied that his father, former president Joseph Estrada, had entered into an agreement with Beijing for the removal of the Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal. He also declined to comment on the supposed gentleman’s agreement between Duterte and China.

“As the chief architect of our country’s foreign policy during his administration, I am not in a position to question the alleged gentleman’s agreement between former president Rodrigo Duterte and China,” Estrada said.

“But insofar as the removal of the BRP Sierra Madre, this much I could say and I could speak on behalf of my father, the former president Joseph Estrada: there was no agreement,” Estrada stressed.

Trojan horse

Presidential sister Sen. Imee Marcos, meanwhile, said her brother’s EO57 would open the gate to “many a Trojan horse of foreign interferences.”

“Emotion rather than reason has prevailed in our maritime conflict with China and is leading us down a dangerous path that will cost us more than just Filipino pride,” she said in her statement opposing EO57.

“Our country’s defense posture is far from self-reliant and the urge to retaliate soonest is about to pay the price of foreign interference,” she said. — Delon Porcalla, Daphne Galvez, Diana Lhyd Suelto

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