House sets probe on Duterte’s ‘secret deal’ with China

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
House sets probe on Duterte�s �secret deal� with China
Facade of the House of Representatives at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, File photo

MANILA, Philippines — The leadership of the House of Representatives is preparing to look into the so-called gentleman’s agreement between former president Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the West Philippine Sea issue.

House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe has vowed to act on the request of Rep. Jefferson Khonghun (Zambales first district) to look deeper into the unwritten deal between the two leaders, as such may be an “act of treason” on the part of the former president.

“In response to the request of our colleagues, led by Assistant Majority Leader Khonghun, the House will consider the call to probe the supposed gentleman’s agreement when Congress resumes its regular sessions on April 29,” he said in a statement.

Dalipe, who is from Zamboanga City, chairs the House committee on rules. “Protecting our national territory and marine resources are of utmost importance,” he said.

“The inquiry is aimed at guaranteeing transparency and protecting the national interests. The House is committed to conducting a comprehensive and fair inquiry to clarify this critical national issue,” Dalipe said.

Congress resumes session on April 29 and goes on recess on May 24. Session commences on July 22, when President Marcos delivers his third State of the Nation Address before joint Congress.

Both Duterte and the Chinese government have confirmed their verbal agreement.

Khonghun earlier voiced support for President Marcos in condemning the reported gentleman’s agreement between Duterte and Xi.

“The integrity of our nation’s sovereignty cannot be subjected to clandestine agreements that undermine the rights of the Filipino people,” Khonghun said. The first district of Zambales, which he represents, includes the coastal areas facing the West Philippine Sea.

According to Khonghun, his aligning with the President’s position reflects a broader trend among legislators, highlighting the need for transparency and accountability in matters of national sovereignty and security.

“It is imperative that we shed light on any agreements or arrangements that could potentially compromise our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Khonghun pointed out.

“The Filipino people deserve to know the truth and hold accountable those responsible for any actions that may jeopardize our national interests,” he stressed.

The legislator expressed hope the inquiry would provide clarity to the issue and help authorities craft effective measures to strengthen the Philippine position against China’s intimidation.

“The Filipino people are rightfully concerned about the implications of any agreements made in secrecy, particularly when it comes to our territorial sovereignty,” Khonghun maintained.

“It is our duty as public servants to ensure that their concerns are addressed and that the interests of the Philippines are protected,” he added.

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, meanwhile, warned the public against falling into the trap of China’s “propaganda” about the gentleman’s agreement between Duterte and Xi.

“I believe it is plain, simple propaganda of the Chinese government. This is not the first time we caught the Chinese ambassador in the Philippines lying. Which was why we earlier called for his replacement and for his return to Beijing,” Villanueva said at the Kapihan sa Senado forum yesterday, referring to Ambassador Huang Xilian. — Marc Jayson Cayabyab

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