Duterte urged: Disclose terms with China
Two House supermajority lawmakers have urged President Rodrigo Duterte to be transparent in his dealings with China, amid concern and confusion on maritime activities he said he had allowed.
Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon and 1-Ang Edukasyon Party-list Rep. Salvador Belaro said a written document could clear up the President’s foreign policy game plan amid Chinese activities in its exclusive economic zone.
This would also allow the government to discuss the matter and avoid misinterpretation in the long run, the two said during the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan forum.
“This policy should be reduced in writing so later on, it would not be questioned,” Belaro said. “To exclude any doubt with respect to implications of these activities, the President should clarify what is the extent or risk misinterpretation.”
“There should be a binding document on both parties and that binding document must somehow be open to discussion by government,” Biazon chimed in.
While Biazon said that the country has to take measures and explore diplomatic means against incursions, Belaro said Duterte has the discretion to allow the Chinese to explore the country’s adjacent seas.
He said Duterte was “just exercising his function as the principal foreign policy officer of the country,” when he applied geopolitical considerations in pursuing a soft stance on the matter of Chinese activities within the seas covered by the Philippine maritime claim.
Since the South China Sea and Benham Rise are not technically territorial sea, Belaro said the country only wield exclusive economic rights that it could use as a leverage with its neighboring giant.
“A right could be waived, [but] there is a quid pro quo,” Belaro said. “It’s not bad for other countries to use the exclusive economic zone. It’s not bad per se. It’s an asset you can do something with, so long as you get a concession for it.”
Biazon is gearing up for a legislative inquiry on the issue of Benham Rise to the east of Luzon.
However, despite the call for more disclosure, he said that the President may not be required to go to the House, even as his own Cabinet secretaries have reportedly been kept out of the loop regarding the Chinese activities
“I don’t think it’s necessary. The Cabinet secretaries are alter egos of the President; we can take [what they say] as policy statements,” he said. JE