Senator moves for inquiry on Chinese missiles

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Senator Antonio Trillanes IV gestures as he answers questions from the media during the Kapihan sa Senado on Sept. 28, 2017. — SENATE PRIB/Cesar Tomambo

By Camille A. Aguinaldo

SENATOR Antonio F. Trillanes IV on Monday filed a resolution seeking an investigation into China’s deployment of missiles defense system and similar militarization activities in the South China Sea.

Senate Resolution No. 722 directs the Senate committee on national defense and security to investigate the issue “with the end… of asserting the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“Aside from the fact that the three formations there were ruled by the arbitration court (as) part of the country’s territorial sea, we have commercial and Navy ships going to that area and the presence of missile systems is dangerous. There might be misencounters,” Mr. Trillanes said in an interview with reporters.

CNBC earlier reported that anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems were deployed by China on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, locally called Kagitingan, Zamora, and Panganiban reefs.

Senate President Aquilino L. Pimentel III earlier said the Senate committee on foreign relations, chaired by Senator Loren B. Legarda, should initially take up the South China Sea issue upon the resumption of session before the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) holds its closed-door briefing with the senators.

Mr. Trillanes said in his resolution that China’s ongoing militarization in the disputed waters posed a “big threat to (the) country’s national defense and security.”

“There is also a need to ensure the preservation of the country’s defense and security by fast(-)tracking the implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and strengthening the implementation of existing laws such as the Archipelagic Baseline Law of the Philippines, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), among others,” the resolution stated.

Asked about possible resource persons in the proposed legislative inquiry, Mr. Trillanes said he would like to be briefed by security officials on the current situation on the ground and their response to the reported installations of defense missiles systems in the three features being claimed by the Philippines.

He would also ask DFA officials whether it was asserting the sovereign rights of the Philippines in the region.

Mr. Trillanes said the hearings may be held publicly or behind closed doors, depending on the sensitivity of the information.