DFA told: Bare diplomatic protests vs China over West Philippine Sea incursions

MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros wants the Senate to conduct a foreign policy audit and review of the government’s diplomatic actions against China’s reported incursions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros wants the Senate to conduct a foreign policy audit and review of the government’s diplomatic actions against China’s reported incursions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

In her Senate Resolution No. 786 filed Wednesday, Hontiveros asked the Senate committee on foreign relations to conduct the audit and review.

In the resolution, the senator noted Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano’s reported claim earlier that the Philippines has already filed “several dozens, maybe 50-100” diplomatic protests against China.

“What is of public record is only the note verbale filed by the Philippines to protest China’s installation of missile systems on three man-made islands in the Spratly Islands and the harassment by the Chinese Navy of Philippine boats resupplying troops in Ayungin Shoal in May 11,” it said.

“How about the 99 other diplomatic protests? Are they even real? If so, what is the nature of these diplomatic actions? What platforms and channels were used? Were they compliant with the spirit of the Hague ruling? When were they filed? What was the response of China?” Hontiveros asked in a separate statement.

Despite repeated entreaties by foreign policy experts to disclose the diplomatic protests and make them of public record, the senator lamented that the Duterte administration has refused to reveal details, “insisting that a diplomatic approach and a mutual cooperation framework would be in the interest of the Philippines.”

But the senator argued that the Senate, which has been granted the power to ratify treaties, has “material interest in ensuring that the foreign policy adopted by the Executive is in the best interest of Filipino citizens.”

“While diplomatic secrets do not need to be disclosed in minute detail, there is value in informing the public of diplomatic protests lodged by the government and this can help pressure foreign governments to conform to international commitments and norms,” said the resolution.

Hontiveros then dared the Department of Foreign Affairs to bare its so-called “50-100 diplomatic protests” against China.

“The people have the right to be informed. Present proof, or they didn’t happen,” she said in the statement.

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