Hontiveros hits back at China, slams WPS reef damage
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontivores hit back at the Chinese Embassy in Manila on Thursday for branding as “ridiculously absurd” and “irresponsible” her demand for China to pay the cost of the Philippines’ COVID-19 response.
“It is more absurd and irresponsible to see that, indeed, in the middle of a global pandemic, China has continued to aggressively violate Philippine sovereignty in the region,” Hontiveros said in a statement on Thursday.
The senator stood firm on her calls that China should “foot the bill” for the Philippines’ fight against the pandemic as reparation for damaging reef ecosystems in the West Philippine Sea.
“My previous statement stands: China must pay at least 200 billion pesos in reparations for the damages it has caused in the reef ecosystems for the past 6 years in the West Philippine Sea,” she said.
“China’s irresponsible excursions in the region have cost the Filipino people at least 33.1 billion pesos a year, according to the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute,” she added.
Hontiveros stressed that the payment of these reparations is “crucial” and can be used as a health and economic assistance amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila, in a statement Wednesday night, pointed out that it has been providing assistance to the Philippines in its fight against the pandemic.
It also insisted that Manila and Beijing “are friendly neighbors across the sea.”
“Friends help each other out, not occupy their islands and destroy their reefs,” she stressed.
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