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Proposal to seize China assets in Philippines for WPS damage needs further study —Hontiveros

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday said the suggestion to seize China's assets in the Philippines as payback for the damage it has caused in the disputed territorial waters needs further study.

The lawmaker made the comment after she was asked if such a move is allowed under the Constitution.

"Anything is possible, I guess. There was a whole spectrum of proposals that came out yesterday and that one was on the spectrum end of hard diplomacy—very provocative," Hontiveros said in an interview on ANC.

"That is something that we should study since it came out of the webinar as a proposal. I believe it was from former Secretary Del Rosario. It is something that we should study," she added.

On Monday, former Foreign Affairs chief Albert Del Rosario said Chinese government assets such as its interest in the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines and the third telco in the country could be seized for its unpaid reparation.

He said a study made by the UP Marine Science Institute estimates that China owes at least P33 billion to the Philippines annually since 2014 for damaging the country's marine ecosystem through artificial island-building and illegal fishing operations.

While this option on hard diplomacy is being explored, Hontiveros said "soft diplomacy" efforts must be launched as soon as possible.

"I'll file a resolution asking the Department of Education to include our marine history, including our narrative of the West Philippine Sea, in our curriculum," she said.

Hontiveros added that she will also push for the funding of a program similar to "Bantay Dagat" when the 2021 budget debates start.

This proposed program aims to capacitate local fisherfolk in providing "immediate intelligence reports" to the law enforcement authorities whenever there are incursions in the territorial waters of the country.

Hontiveros also said she will be setting meetings with civil society organizations and individuals in other claimant countries to forge "people-to-people unity." —KG, GMA News