Senate inquiry sought on diplomatic protests vs China

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Sen. Risa Hontiveros -- SENATE PRIB/JOSEPH VIDAL

By Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporter

SENATOR Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel on Wednesday filed a resolution seeking a foreign policy audit to review the diplomatic protests of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) against China regarding its controversial activities in the South China Sea.

Senate Resolution No. 786 directed the Senate committee on foreign relations, chaired by Senator Loren B. Legarda, to conduct the audit on the diplomatic protests.

“I challenge the DFA to bare its so-called 50-100 diplomatic protests against China, which the Foreign Affairs Secretary claims to have lodged. The people have the right to be informed. Present proof, or they didn’t happen,” the senator said in a statement.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano in a legislative inquiry last May said the Philippines has filed 50 to 100 diplomatic protests against China’s militarization activities in South China Sea.

The Senate resolution noted that the Duterte administration has refused to disclose details on the issue and has only assured that a “diplomatic approach” was being undertaken on China.

It also stressed the Senate’s “material interest” over foreign policy matters, citing its constitutional authority to ratify treaties and its check and balance powers.

The Senate committee on foreign relations has yet to act on Senate resolutions regarding the Philippines-China relations and the South China Sea issue. Ms. Legarda earlier said the committee would soon open its inquiry into the issues.