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Senate to probe government policy towards China

The Senate is set to conduct a probe on the government policy towards China amid the reported installation of missile systems by Beijing in disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Senator Loren Legarda, chairman of the committee on foreign relations, said the chamber should have a part in the shaping the government's foreign policy.

“I welcome the call for the Senate committee on foreign relations to conduct a public hearing on the government’s policy towards China. I agree that the Senate, as an independent body, should assert our role in helping shape the government’s foreign policy.” 

She said Senate Resolutions 722 and 723 on the China issue have been transferred to her committee. 

“We will soon conduct a public hearing and I will work with my colleagues, including the committee on national defense and security, in determining how best to support current initiatives to diffuse the tension, while at the same time protecting our sovereignty and territorial rights,” the senator said.

“I maintain the view that diplomacy plays a key role in finding long term and durable solutions to the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue,” she added.

Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV filed separate resolutions on the matter.

In Senate Resolution 722, Trillanes said the country must assert its sovereignty and territorial integrity and ensure that the militarization by China does not pose any threat to the Philippines.

He stated that installation of weapons systems and the building of facilities and structures is clear manifestation that China is militarizing the West Philippine Sea.

Aquino, for his part, said that Beijing's installation of missile systems within the Philippine continental shelf was done in complete and blatant disregard of the ruling of the arbitral tribunal and the rule of the international law.

“There is a need to ensure that the country’s sovereign rights and the Filipino people’s long term security and economic interests in the West Philippine Sea are not compromised in the President’s pursuit of a stronger alliance with China,” he said.

Amid criticisms, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano earlier said the government has been filing "several dozens" of diplomatic protests against the Asian superpower, noting that there have been "maybe 50 [to] 100" protests made over the past two years.

He said the government has chosen not to announce these protests regularly through the media.

"We have been filing a diplomatic protest. But the critics want us to announce it loudly and to confront China each and every time to the media. That is not conducive through the ongoing talks," Cayetano said. —Amita Legaspi/LBG, GMA News